Guide to a labyrinth



If walls could speak, they won’t stop talking about the glorious days, which they have witnessed. I recently visited Bara Imambara in Lucknow, which was build by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh, in 1784. The walls are designed in such way that if someone just whispers in one corner, it is heard in other corners and galleries. These walls, literally, have ears here.


Sun saluting the Majestic Asfi mosque

Beautiful arches are the result of the amazing engineering, which distribues the weight of building to the outer structure. Imambara has Asfi Mosque, three halls (Chinese hall, Persian hall and Indian hall), a labyrinth and a stepwell (Shahi Bowli). The place a strategic design, which made the soldiers spot the enemy as they enter the premises. There are many ways, which are blocked now. Legends has that these were secret passageways to Faizabad, Agra and other far distant places.



Rini, showing me the way in the labyrinth


Other attraction of this place was Labyrinth and Shahi Baoli (stepwell).


Shahi Bowli



A setting in the evening


A short fiction story

Once a family came to visit a labyrinth. There were four adults and two kids in the family. They hired a guide to show them around. Guide warned them that seven of us will enter but only six will come out. Everyone laughed as the guide was making everything mysterious to make it interesting. He gave a tour around. One of the kid was very chirpy and was teasing the guide, ‘Are you guiding us or yourself?’

In a span of more than two hours, everyone experienced the puzzles of the labyrinth to their heart and now it was time to get out. Guide challenged the tourists to find their way out in next fifteen minutes and claimed that the right way will take just 30 seconds. They never came out and guide was taken away by the police.


In few days, a man came and got the guide out of police station.


A boy of nine is asking another guide if he is guiding the boy or himself and then runs to his mother, who is cooking meal. She shushes him as she takes another child to show her home in a tunnel.


Written by Rini

Photos by Avinash


It has been almost 12 years, a long time, since he has not visited his home even once. Rather it will be the inconvenient truth to say that in these 12 years, he did not visit the place where he knows lies comfort for him. No matter what time it will be, his favorite food will be cooked and people will always be happy to have him around. Yes, it was his home town. After his college, he does not visit his home as often and every time he was in panic he will call them, be it day or night. On the opposite side of the scale, when he got selected in his dream college  and subsequently landed his dream job, he was so excited that he called them in the night. There is nothing bad about it. Family as an organization plays a vital role to cope up with sudden changes in life, be it intended or unintended.

He even ensured that there were regular family reunions. Reaching there was three hours by flight and by bus, it was a 10 hours journey, which was not so difficult for anyone in the family. Maid was given special instructions to cook what the family used to eat in his childhood days, so as to refresh the memories. Lately since his parents were working and sometimes they didn’t get leave to go to him. Even he was busy, so in last couple of years, there was no such reunion.

In any society, a lot of value and importance is given to family gatherings, as it revives the bond and brings unity. Finally, it is the kinship which takes care of its members in hard times. In Indian society, the vastness of this kinship is vocal identity for one’s influence in society. So it is expected from everyone that they attend crucial events. Living in big cities and chasing dreams has taken a large chunk of our time. But at what cost? Some people might be willing to have the discomfort of giving it a thought and out of those, only few will come to a conclusion. After all who wants to waste time, thinking such things when every thing seems so right!

But in last decade, even these 5 hours journey has become a hectic procedure. A distance of mere few hundreds of kilometers is referred to as a remote place by people living in the metros. People think not only about the distance, but time and also the crowd that they have to bear with for the hours of journey. Mostly people avoid journey, which they feel might push them out of their comfort zone. But if we ask ourselves, nothing is as beautiful and comforting as seeing happiness in the eyes of family members, the people you love.

Yes, it is true that he worked hard in office and in his leisure time, he used to develop avenues of future prospects. But as any human being on earth, he was also full of emotions. There were sinusoidal moments of joy and sadness in his life also. This was probably a break from his linear mechanical life. And the irony is that, these moments of high and low were the ones when he took up his phone and dialed his home.


Photo by: Avinash Kumar

But sometimes even people who become habitual of living a fast track life, want a place of peace, and what could be better than the home town where clock ticks at its usual pace, without any pressure attached to it. It was surprising that this time he thought he will go to his home with his mind free and not occupied by either the office or complexities of his life. On the other hand, he was excited to visit his home, to see those playground, friends where he lived and with whom he has one of his his memory.

And finally the day came, he felt that he was again a child and with those childlike keen eyes, which are forever interested and curious to ask questions and prepared to grasp things which come in their way, he stepped out of station. But to his surprise, he was total stranger in his own native place. He felt uncomfortable. He rushed to his home and knocked the door. His parents were happy to see him and blessed him. He inquired about how things have changed. With a childish smile, he asked why was he not informed about the changes in the garden and in the city. It was then that he saw those lines on the faces of his parents. They have developed wrinkles on their face and have spectacles on their eyes.

Those faces which were like sky and earth for him, have grown old but still their zeal to make him happy was not even a bit less. He asked to himself, when it happened, how suddenly all things have changed and all these times, he was acting as if he was the center of the whole world for his family, like in his childhood. How his world has changed without him being aware of it. How his perceptions have become stiff.

This time he was so calm that he could listen to the voice within him, which he had not given much attention after joining the race. It was his conscience which reminded all that he has missed, ‘…the period to love, understand his own family, the race of the world, the continuous effort to be happy…’.

He realized how much self-centered he has become. He has left the ever cheerful nature of a child and the importance of family, far behind. His mind started pondering upon the thought that it’s only family where he can always remain a child.


Photo by: Avinash Kumar

With heavy heart and a sense of gratitude, he remembered a silly discussion with his friend, ‘the river which flows is lively, but when it becomes static, the same water give foul smell’. His thoughts broke by the smell of paranthas (fried Indian bread), as he sees his mother approaching him with the tray. He jumped to the dining table, and became a child once again.