The Deserted Banquet Hall

You have been here a long time now, Gertrude. What do you recall looking at the patch of the dark sky which reaches your eyes through the concrete forest?

He sighed. It was indeed dark and the thought of the arrival of an evening mosquito swarm (for that is what the people graded it to be) broke his meditation. So he said to me, “I can’t believe I am talking to you again. But then who else do I have to fill my company, it’s not as if people have friends anymore. The last conversation I ever had was with a Chat Bot that talked like a woman. So to answer your question, yes I try to recall a moment, years from now when I did make memories.”

From days of your father to this moment, Connecticut has become alien to you and unrecognizable to me. In the farthest East upon the barren surface of the Great River the sun did shine yet it didn’t glow in your company but burned you with itself. And as I looked ahead, the far dimming lights of New York City which shimmered at a distance your spirit could never achieve instigated disgust for the odour of its coxcomb life. In this ever ambitious world here you sit everyday within your part of the sky looking on to the darkness as the constant reminder of the life today.

He motionlessly looked on the sky bereft of stars (as he would say) but which was hidden behind the dark clouds of dust as I could see.

It had become a matter of everyday now. Gertrude’s lonesome seating on the roof provoked my intrusion for in the silence around him I heard afflicting thoughts from the time past. In the month of October when leaves did rustle under his feet, I lingered today to hear the presence of nature’s daughter around him. It was between this chasm of then &now, where I got lost every time he looked at the far and familiar night sky. And to my agony, I could not reconcile him to find acceptance in a world he thoroughly unaccepted.

You should probably go to Martha. You are again sinking in yourself ————-Before I could say more, the above said Martha, the sole living companion of the only un-automated house in Connecticut, poked into view bearing her usual face with which she hinted that she didn’t quite understand his behaviour and got irritated with her ignorance.

“So you peeping into the sky again, lark?” she ejaculated.

“Not the sky, doll”.

I tried to evade her.

“Dad, you know you don’t have to lie to me”, was her protestation.

“But my dear, with your face covering my view, how do you expect I can be looking onto the sky now?”

I generously smiled at her stamping feet with which she often indicated her helplessness in rescuing his humour from her innocent anger. And as she would have it, soon I and Gertrude were back in the “petite” apartment he called his house. It had been carefully maintained to be as antique as possible. It was thus that it had the old ceramic paint coatings which now withered from time, were majorly covered with portraits of Connecticut that he drew from my memory. He enjoyed lying at the stitched bag of sponge he called a “couch” while Martha began her persiflage.

But today was different. For a reason I couldn’t identify, Gertrude lied down on his sponge to look over at his oldest painting which he saved as a bearing by his father. The painting never took my attention for it couldn’t instigate my love for art which was lost in my transaction with the Present; but with Gertrude it became somewhat like a gadget to which he drew back every hour of the 24. It was contained in a wooden frame which was cracked at corners and the picture presented the image of a young boy in mid twenties standing in the middle of an empty banquet hall. The glance of the boy seemed to interest Gertrude. Even with the tears that rolled down his eyes the young boy curved his lips to smile looking at the maple leaf crafted on the hall’s floor.  Within minutes of meditation, the painting of the mysterious boy flushed Gertrude’s face until a tear held with cold embrace his heated cheeks.

But it seemed I wasn’t the only one who noticed the deluded weight, for Martha exclaimed as haughtily as a child used to do in 21st Century pointing at the picture, “Is he experiencing another of those modes you call “emotion” papa? I wish Mr. Brudge taught us that in the class of Humanology.”

Gertrude just smiled.

“But is he sad or happy, papa?”

At this question of the little Martha I felt a deep hollow in my heart that numbed my thoughts. While I had no weight (for such is my constitution) I felt burdened with a load I seemed to be familiar with. To all I experienced Gertrude sat frozen at the face of her who didn’t notice his fixed gaze.

But Martha frivolously observed, “He looks happy to be sad, papa. I think he’s smart like Treck”.

He didn’t bother to hear the gross details that Martha went on to provide of Treck’s intelligence, and got up on his feet to face the painting he mused over. For in a moment of Martha’s persiflage, he stumbled over his only inheritance.

And he spoke in my ears –

I remember how my father sang to me, though the words I can’t recall

Yet its music reaches me now, of the song sewed with “pleasures in all”

It spoke of shallow reach of joy and the faithless showers

Afar did the freshness reach of the splendid flowers?

Ah! Its morning opens its gates and now its climes I do I see,

Affection drawn from sorrow is the truest there can be. *

 

 

*Gertrude is referring from Thomas Moore’s “In the Morning of Life”

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3 thoughts on “The Deserted Banquet Hall”

  1. Astonishing scene-a man-child, named Gertrude, trying to make sense of a post-apocalyptic, thoroughly automated world. I don’t think I would like to be in his shoes, or those of his father.

    Like

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