Every house has a front door and a back door.
For some homes, these may be interchangeable. Perhaps the kitchen entrance is really the front door for some; a place for the inhabitants of the house to traipse in and out while avoiding the prying eyes of neighbours. In a house for exiles, a house that is a sprawl of many connecting buildings, the front door is perhaps a little forlorn, unused except during the odd social fortnight or so. This door may be almost obscenely ornate, adorned with carvings of love and of conquest across the ages. The carvings do nothing to augment the appeal of this entrance. Perhaps, the other inhabitants of this house prefer a far more romantic entrance, accessed via the overgrown courtyards nestled within a labyrinthian embrace of stone and teakwood.
These courtyards are sprawling.
Many have disqualified themselves from being proper courtyards, breaking out as they do through one of the many sides of ancient wings that have long crumbled into the ground, allowing glimpses, if not views of the ocean and the vertiginous slope of the hill upon which this domus was built as it slants towards one of the three great forests of Yrejveree.
In such a courtyard, perhaps you might even glimpse magical hybrid creatures that have escaped from the Far East.
My front door is nestled in uneasy obscurity against one of the least perceptible angles of this house with so many sides, it can’t even be said to be geometrical. I access it from steps carved onto the side of the hill onto a curved pathway.
The door is hidden by huge, overgrown bushes and an unruly trio of frangipani trees. It is a slim, rectangular slit that bisects the rough, stone facade that faces Maris Exsilii, the Sea of Exiles. It is a slit that is perhaps too slender for more corporeal forms. Or, is it?
Unnoticed, I allow the breeze to dry the saltwater off my shivering body. Perhaps I will even climb one of these trees, unwilling to encase myself within the walls of the house, yearning to return to the Sea of Exiles.
Every house has an obvious front door. Some of us, however, prefer the ones that are less ornate, far more hidden. It makes for quick entries and exits.
It allows us to escape notice. And it keeps you out.
All text are the copyright of (c) Nin Harris. All Rights Reserved.
The header photograph (Christchurch Meadows, Oxford) was taken by (c) Nin Harris, and the digital art page divider was made by her. The feature picture of a Peranakan house in Penang was also taken by (c) Nin Harris. All Rights Reserved.