It was a world made of finest quilts, with trees and birds made of exemplary silk and cotton. Beyond the fairly stuffed mound of maroon quilts, the castle of the Queen swayed gloriously. It was built for her, literally – it could only fit her. It had three windows – the middle one, a little wider than the other two. If nothing was wrong and the wind, innocuous, that was the window that shew the royal nose. But a hint of winter in the air and the nose would become all red and wet and the woollen drape was drawn on the curious, yet beautiful, spectacle. The queen’s castle, as it was so brilliantly crafted, required a burly, dismissing guard. A guard it had, and he was burly and dismissing, but old, and on most nights, drunk. His hut was made of a coarse material, probably a blend of jute and rocks. His face, though, was all rocks – it was predominantly lined, bearing broad crevices, all starting from his big mouth. His voice was boisterous and he rather burped out his words than speak them. He would do anything for the Queen, apart from marrying her. There was a rumour – if only a curious boy talking about it and only him believing it can be a rumour – that the burly, ugly man had a beautiful daughter. The boy who started the rumour and convinced himself of its truth, was a well behaved, believing boy, who looked too old to be termed a kid, and too lost to be termed a man. It wasn’t that his story about the guard’s daughter was all rubbish – one could argue that most of it was – as it was rooted in the boy’s vision of having seen the girl once, besides the half river, trying to weave a lily, working the needles all wrong. It wasn’t a rumour he started as far as he was concerned. It was pure truth. Her eyes were green, her nose red – red of a setting sun. Never before had he a keener sense of his own mediocrity. He’d have killed to have those green eyes. He would have killed to be near them. Other than that, he was a protégé to the Master Weaver, who, by the way, was dead.
In front of the jute house. The castle of the Queen is faintly visible. It is cold, extremely so, as the heavy jute jacket of the Guard and the stifling woollen pullover of the Boy will explain. “There is a cruel wind blowing,” the guard would say, as the fine frills of the unfinished world fly and fall. It is as bright as a dark, nebulous night could afford. The boy stands at the foot of what is a smooth, satin-like mound, on which sits a huge man, drinking what could be his millionth drink.
BOY: He’s dead!
GUARD: What? Louder, son. There’s a cruel wind blowing.
BOY: The weaver! He’s dead!
GUARD: No! It can’t be!
BOY: He is dead. The master weaver’s gone. The needles are all stunned.
GUARD: God! How?
BOY: I don’t know. Maybe, work – too much of it. He was quiet since the last few days – never thought because he was dying!
GUARD: How much of it is left?
BOY: Of what?
GUARD: Of stitching, you fool! Stitching of our world!
BOY: There’s the garden for the Queen. Rhododendrons are but half done. And so are the roses. And various cactuses, which her Highness saw drawn in some book, and wanted badly to be woven. The river stops flowing midway. The banks are but heftily produced. But the biggest worry is a hole left unpatched. A vicious dump to the other world below, you know, that is. Covering that again would have required nights and nights of work.
BOY: Oh! Don’t you know it was covered before, and was but so until the weaver died?
GUARD: But why weren’t the Queen and I informed before?
BOY: Because it was stitched every time it gaped open. And it was all good as long as he was there.
GUARD: The hole portends an inscrutable calamity. No one returns after falling down.
BOY: What is to be done?
GUARD: The Queen mustn’t know!
BOY: What is to be done!?
GUARD: It’ll create a row!
BOY: What is to be done?
GUARD: In the old dead weaver’s name, shut up! Let me think.
[After thinking – and drinking – for a while.]
GUARD: You say the needles are all stunned, are they?
BOY: As stunned as needles are supposed to be.
GUARD: And you say the river, the rhododendrons, the bloody, man-sucking hole, all lie unwoven?
BOY: Yes. But there’s a little trifle more.
GUARD: How little?
BOY: Er, the hole is not where it was supposed to be.
GUARD: Cloaks! What is that supposed to mean?
BOY: The hole is, well, a hole. It, er, it shows up in places you never want it to show up!
GUARD: Where is it now?
GUARD: The hole, you nincompoop! The ever shifting, man-gulping hole!
BOY: Master Weaver knew where it was.
GUARD: But the old fool’s dead, and so would you be, if you don’t come up with a reply that’s not a nonsensical certainty.
BOY: I know of a place.
GUARD: I’m listening.
BOY: The old man was all hushy and quiety about it.
GUARD: What kind of place?
BOY: A house, of sorts.
GUARD: Of what sorts?
BOY: A chateau, rivalling those that the Frenchmen built – whenever they built them – of the finest cotton and wool available here, and which was to be used to stitch up the hole again.
GUARD: God of fleece! Where’s the monument of this utter debauchery?
BOY: Where the woollen fish pond was to be.
GUARD: For how long has this Master of yours been putting wool over our eyes?
BOY: Since there has been enough wool.
GUARD: But there was never enough wool!
BOY: There was. Once he decided not to cover the hole, there was.
GUARD: Take me there.
BOY: Alright, mind your steps. It’s too velvety down here.