Rogue Walls

You wake up and find that the wall beside your home has walked away in the middle of the night. You exchange a look of utter bewilderment with your neighbour, the one who shared the rogue wall with you, a person you have hardly ever set eyes on before. You think the same thought as her. This cannot be happening.

But it is. You run back into your home and switch on the telly because there are few things in the world more comforting than the mindless drone of a television with its volume set low. You collapse into a chair in order to better digest the news flashing on the screen. It isn’t just your wall.

The newscaster is reading lines off his teleprompter like a man hypnotised. All the walls in the world have come alive, he says. Walls guarding prisoners and refugees, walls that people knelt before and prayed, walls that people urinated upon. Old walls built by people long dead and buried, new ones with their mortar and rebar still acquainting themselves with each other. Even the fences, those lesser cousins, have joined in on the act. All of them are alive. He ends his segment with a whispered Oh God. The scene then cuts to an aerial shot of a rocky python making its way across a desert. The headline tells you that this is the Great Wall of China, gambolling around in Mongolia.

A video of a loud politician plays next, his toupee in disarray, his face bloated and pink like a baby’s. New walls will be built if the old ones do not behave, he screams. Nobody asks him what will happen if the new walls misbehave too.

A commentator says this was inevitable. Adjusting his tie and keeping a straight face, he says it was the ghost of John Lennon who did this. The news channel shifts back to images of the world’s biggest wall chasing its own tail in the Mongolian desert. The ghost of Lennon must have a bizarre sense of humour.

You turn off the television, sparing a moment to think of your humble little stretch of wall. You wonder where it could be, what it could be doing at this moment. You walk back outside to see the nest that your little wall has left behind. The shallow trench looks like it has been tilled for farming, the mud ripe and fresh.

Never seen anything like this before.

You look up and see that the neighbour is still standing in the same spot as before, immobile like your wall had once been. Your eyes meet over the trench. It is strange that the two of you have never had a proper conversation before.

Cup of tea? You ask her. She nods.

Ajay Patri is a lawyer and writer from Bangalore, India. He has been published in Every Day Fiction, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Out of Print, among others. He is currently working on his first novel. @ajaybpatri