One morning in March, the wall came down – the whole
lichenous length of it, twenty feet or so. It fell on its own
with an echoless thunder, pulverizing the neighborhood’s
People rushed to look, and were stupefied by the spectacle
of bricks lying in martial disorder - their maimed platoon
punctuated the traffic of men bound for the bazaar and mothers
taking their children to school.
They talked about how it had been a miracle that no one
was hurt; how the wall had chosen to fall just when there
was not a soul, not even a dog or a cat, on the lane along
its length. It was a mystery,
a little like the disappearance of the man who had built
the wall to protect his small plot of land with its vegetable
patch – one sudden morning, years ago, his neighbors had
learned that he was missing. Just like that.
He had left no clue; no perceivable reason explained
his abrupt truancy. No one ever saw him again. For some
time, his wife believed that he would return. His daughter,
on the other hand, never spoke of him.
The tar-coated tin of the garden gate became used to light’s
fixed angularities. The diurnal surprise of the sun’s awkward
fingers caressing its swing left its memory for ever. An ambush
of weeds erased the vegetable patch.
Then it was left to the cats, sitting face to face on the wall,
to spell spring. The years passed in halting sequences of night
and rain, abuse and oblivion. And the wall, tired of snarling
the same graffito, stood, obedient to an absence, as long
as it could.
By Eugene DattaQLRS Vol. 2 No. 3 Apr 2003