Many many a year ago, the moon shone over a mansion where zamindars played cards and dancers’ feet twirled on the cold marble floors, night after night. Ragas would be sung, enhanced by the rhythm of the tabla, and the sharpness of the string of tanpuras would be tempered by the musician’s touch, to produce melodies that earned the hosts titles of ‘Raibahadur’ from their White peers. Surrounded by creative art produced with genius craftsmanship, living in a house with walls covered in silken tapestries and portraits of ancestors, thriving on food cooked delicately over yellow flames and charred wood – the zamindars of the mansion had never known loss.
When the empire collapsed, and all assets were seized, they learnt for the first time, what it meant to lose.
Decades later, when the mansion, now empty – spewing with a smell of damp flakes on the pillars, with novel chandeliers of cobwebs and thick varnish of dust that had painted the mansion in a dull grey, the zamindars joined the ranks of the dancers they admired, musicians they appreciated, cooks and servants, and all who they had thought were beneath them, in living.
The zamindars were dead. Their families had left. Their heritage was forgotten. The structure was decaying. That is when, for the first time, moss grew on the outer wall of the mansion. It spread across the lower ground and coloured the dead institution green. Life grew on.


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