The first thing she notices when she enters the room is the way it smells. Not a strong signature scent but apple-jilebi. Banana-rose. Milk-disinfectant. Whifflings born from the copulation of several distinct odours. She inhales the bouquet deeply and in return offers the room her own – a mixture of fear, sweat and sickly sweet perfume.
The door shuts gently behind her. Blocking out the girlish giggles of the family's 60 year old matrons and draping the room in darkness. She shuffles forward and makes a haphazard left, unsure of her way. Her soft feet squish against the worn, grimy floor, seeking out the well-defined borders of each square tile. She pauses and fingers (toes?) a tiny crater she chances upon at the corner of a slab.
Her jangling anklets are halted as she bumps in to something hard. The bed. Her mother-in-law had pointed at this ageing four-poster behemoth earlier and cracked a ribald joke that had made her blush.
A quilt has been thrown over the mattress in an attempt to disguise its hard and lumpy terrain. The bed is high and she is forced to clamber inelegantly upon it. She puts a tentative hand out to explore the quilt. Softness and then a little bump. Softness. Another bump. It is embroidered. She seeks out the trail of tiny thread hillocks trying to decipher what they form. A blue elephant? A gaudy pink paisley? A mythical white swan? She turns her face and is gently slapped by a long, snakelike garland of flowers – rose, jasmine, marigold. They wind their way across the beams of the bed. Benign serpents that cast off their perfumed skin on every available surface.
As she lets out a soft sigh a stronger gust of air blows through an open window behind the bed. It brings with it dust, clues about the neighbour's dinner and the strains of an old film song. She jumps off her perch, boredom driving her to explore her new surroundings. No longer afraid she makes her way around the bed. Keeping one hand on it though. Just in case.
The bed ends and she puts her arms out front. Playing blind mans bluff with the dark. She stops when her fingers find a wall and gropes the surface. It is flaky and leaves her fingertips coated with a chalky powder. Cheap distemper. A half-hearted attempt to spruce up an old room for a new bride. She walks on dragging her fingers over the wall leaving in her wake paint slivers and the occasional stray flower from her headdress.
The wall gives way to a surface of smoother finish. A cold, metallic handle forces itself in to her hand, begging to be pulled. She pauses waiting for the room to give her – its new mistress some indication of its approval. But it remains dark and silent. Almost hostile. Taking this as a sign she moves on, leaving the mysterious door for another day.
Her nose guides her to where the sweets and fruits have been kept. She knows that they are arranged on the ornate silver plates that are a part of her dowry. Sweets rich in milk,ghee, saffron and coconut. Ripe bananas, guavas and apples.
The banana doubling as an incense stick holder. Hungry, she reaches out touching sticky, soft treats until her fingers close over the coiled body of a jilebi.
The door suddenly opens and she hears the click of the light switch. She shuts her eyes blocking out the two intruders. Her new husband. And the light.
Describe a room. It can be any room. Imagined, remembered, dreaded, loved, public, private, empty, full of people, fictional, personal...
Know your room before you start writing about it.
Your audience should be able to know your room as well as you do. They should be able to see it, smell it, feel it. If you don’t know your room inside-out, your uncertainty will leak through tiny cracks in the prose.
Each student has the additional task of writing within specified stylistic restrictions.
Mine was to write WITH ALL SENSES EXCEPT SIGHT (BUT NOT BLIND)
Not sure if I've managed to carry out the task fully. I feel as though something is missing. Feedback as always is appreciated!