the box

The Box by

“Let me put it to you in this way. In your feeble logic that aged beauty cannot be praised, is bogus,” I reasoned with Tamarrah Prine. “Regardless of the brunette, the blond, or the black, underneath everyone’s hair turns white in time. White is universal, lasting, and most praiseworthy colour of all.”

Tamarrah Prine was at least thirty years younger than I. Her comment was provocative that at sixty, my looks were not praiseworthy. Therefore, I should be a stay-home grandmother worthy of raising grandchildren only. The thought carried me over to the next afternoon, as I walked down the fish lane to the grocery store. She needed to be mentored.

Sharat Chandra Chattapadday’s Dev Das had Chandramukhi—Omar Khaiyyam had Saki— Shakespeare, his dark lady. Their beauties charmed the wits of these poets’ who wrote delightful poetry in their company. Wine and poetry flowed simultaneously out of Saki’s golden decanter. Minds bathed in the bowl of its red as it treaded its way into the gilded lives of amorous heydays.

Age was not beautiful? I thought.

Pursuance of love in the moment of pleasured Youth, also, felt it would last an eternity; the sensuous Sakis of the world, the Chandramukhis or even the dark ladies in tantalising hues, idling with a fling in arrogant denial of the decay of the minds and the bodies, snubbed  Age. Whose decrepit wrinkles showed signs of sadness that time had supped all of the youth in the maddening melting of the flesh? Stop. Hearken the words of wisdom. That the tormented and the taunted were not tainted, but strangely praiseworthy, more so than the youth of the day.

Who wouldn’t still desire Saki, Chandamukhi, or the uncomely mistress, the dark lady? Had age tarnished them? Looks not praiseworthy? Indeed, it was a mystery of the crypt, within the mausoleum of silken poetry. Imbibing in the pitchers of wine, in the contours of the dunes the nightingales rise, Chandramukhi’s unrequited love of her fading Dev Das had resumed, Shakespeare’s uncomely mistress had come to pass. Both the Lover and the Youth, the unblemished bride of quietness stood glued on the Grecian Urn to be wooed.

The moot, that aged beauty wasn’t praiseworthy, blinded by the life of the mind’s beauty, only the physical age was tallied. My measured footsteps gauged up the fish lane. The more I moved along the timeline, the more I went into the lights of the mind. A mind-blowing heist by the deep imagination where thousands of years of beauty had prevailed. The most enduring was also the most daring residing in the academy of the arts and prose—a potent mix of young beauty locked in aged art and prose. A veritable paradox that older the arts, the better looking the young subjects of the pieces were—age was beautiful.

Arguably, in the age-old Portia’s sharp tongue of the ‘pound of flesh’ was where this case eventually rested.



Mehreen Ahmed is an Australian novelist, born in Bangladesh.Her historical fiction,The Pacifist,is a Drunken Druid’s Editor’s Choice. Gatherings, is nominated for the James Tait Black Prize for fiction. Her short and flash fiction have won in The Waterloo Short Story Festival,Cabinet-of-Heed Challenge,shortlisted by Cogito Literary Journal Contest,shortlisted by Litteratuer RW for Litt Prize,finalist in the Fourth Adelaide Literary Award Contest.A Best of Cafelit 8,three-time nominated for The Best of the Net Awards,nominated for the Pushcart Prize Award. Also, critically acclaimed by Midwest Book Review,DD Magazine,The Wild Atlantic Book Club to name a few.She is contributing editor and jury to the KM Anthru International Prize of the Litterateur Redefining World Magazine and a featured writer for Flash Fiction North and Connotation Press.Her Toads on Lily Pads was curated by Cambridge Press on Muck Rack. She is widely published online, in anthologies, and has authored eight books. Her short stories have been translated into Greek,Bengali,and German.


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