The white house, she called it. Built on God knew how many yards it stood like a monument amongst equally large but less admirable houses. Vines of jasmine curtained its windows and the marbled floor of the verandah reflected even the slightest movement of the leaves rippled by the wind. One side of the house had a glass wall through which a chandelier could be seen. When lit, its splendour was one to be gaped at.
Ameena knew it was bad manners to peep in people’s houses but she couldn’t help stealing a glance whenever the oak-front doors were open. The garden that surrounded it was as grandiose as the house itself. Comfortable garden chairs lay in one corner speaking of the several times the dwellers may have leisurely occupied them. She let out a sigh as she noticed the fountain in the far corner for the first time.
Days passed by. Her father’s business prospered and they moved in a new house, in a new town. The white house was long forgotten now that she had her own red bricked villa that had more grace, more grandeur.
Admired by all, friends and family, it was furnished exactly the way she had dreamed how the white house must look inside. The house was a busy place where the staff always kept the kitchen warm, the pantry well-stocked, the car fuelled and the garden alive and growing.
What it never provided was…
The warmth of her mother’s hugs….
Her father’s early morning humming and concerned look over her empty plate….
Her brother’s bickering…..
The bloated feeling she used to have after eating her mother’s cooking….
In a place so big, she had lost her family somewhere. The smiles, laughter and love lay somewhere buried beneath the vast grounds or behind the countless walls thick enough to hold them captive. She remembered the white house. She heard the sigh of someone passing the street. They called it the Red Fort, she knew.
©2013. Habiba Danyal