Ghosts of Kindness

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house: Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

He was tired after a long walk in the fields. It was a humid Summer afternoon, and he had separated from the other campers. Thankfully, however, he knew the way out, and he knew that walking on would lead him to them before daybreak.
He walked on and on, now desperate for water. He had emptied his bottle, even though he only drank in sips. He didn’t know what was worse- having no water to drink, or whatever he drank converting into sweat, leaving him sticky, and craving for a bath. He was, truthfully, anxious now as he realized he was dehydrating fast.
After what felt like years of walking, he came across a shabby house, which had no doors or windows, and there was nobody inside. It looked more like a shack where farmers would rest at noon after a day’s labour. He wondered if it were okay to enter, but he entered anyway. He looked around, desperate for water, and dare he say, food.
He saw an earthen pot, covered with a stainless steel plate, with a glass on top. He hurriedly took the glass, and opened the small tap as the water flowed out of the pot and into the glass. He could feel the cold water as the glass became fuller, and nothing gave him more satisfaction than that.
He gulped in the water, sighing as it got over, and refilled it. After about three glasses, he felt satiated, and proceeded to fill in the bottle. As he opened the tap, he felt a light tap on his shoulder. He slowly looked around, and at the sight before him, he dropped his bottle in shock.
A pale, old man stood before him, his eyes darker than any other he saw before. His eyes were drooping and had dark shadows. The old man had hair whiter than the shirt he was wearing, and his skin was wrinkled, with visible blues of veins. His teeth were a pale yellow, and his lips a daunting brown. As the man slowly smiled, he radiated a ghostly spirit.
“I’m sorry, sir, that I walked into your house,” he started, “I was extremely thirsty and-”
“It’s okay, child,” the old man said, his voice hollow, yet deep, “And never start a conversation with an apology.”
The young man smiled shyly in response.
“You can fill the bottle now. And tell me, would you like some bread, and perhaps wine? Or maybe mashed potatoes? I’m sorry I don’t have a lot around here.”
“Oh, sir, don’t take the trouble. I was just leaving. I-”
“No, it is no trouble at all. We always treat our guests well. It’s a tradition passed on since generations.”
“Well, sir, if you insist,” he said, now coy. “Bread and potatoes would be spiffy.”
He watched as the old man took off a banana leaf, and filled it with lumps of potatoes that were hot, and a pair of toast. He poured wine in a silver goblet and placed them on the table, as he pulled a high stool and a low chair and placed it on the opposite sides. He urged the young man on to the stool and asked him to eat.
“Wouldn’t you eat, ser?” he asked.
“No, my child. I have had my food some time back. It’s all yours. Dunk in, now.”
He ate the food, and drank the wine, and now full, he looked at the old man, who was now watching him in amusement.
“Are you sure you don’t want more? There’s plenty. No? More wine perhaps? No? Are you sure?”
“Thank you, sir. You’re very kind.”
“No trouble at all. You can take a nap, if need be. I was just about to leave.”
“Oh, no, no. I uh.. Need to walk on to reach my camp by daybreak,ser. Thank you very much, sir. I am indebted to you.”
Saying thus, he walked on, looking back at the house of a stranger, with the ghost of kindness and love upon him. Soon he walked into the camp, where everyone greeted him with a pat on the back, and an “Alrigh’ bud?”
They told him of the interesting things they did, including ploughing a field. Then they told him of a shack, the owner of which had died of grief a few years back, as his very son died because of lack of food. Now everytime anybody went there, they’d find a bone-chilling cold just within the shack, and hear shrieking noises.
The young man passed away in his sleep of ” causes unknown” that night.


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