Doors have always fascinated me. The beautifully designed ones that have stood the test of time, in the halls of history and then there are the oddly and magical ones, written in the story books.
As the containment was relaxed here, I went to that part of Delhi that has always appealed to me. Delhi-6 or old Delhi. The best way to savor this old world town would be on foot or by rickshaw. The doors here have stories to tell, as they may have been home to countless stories, punctuated with poetry and a myriad of layers of emotion. I wonder what lies behind the threshold of the ancient adornments you see as you walk the narrow lanes of Delhi-6.
Quaint homes that now wear a shabby, unkempt look have beautiful doors, crafted for eons by world-class artisans. Some date from the time of the Mughal ruler, Shah Jahan, and others were built a little later. Today, they are ignored and unnoticed.
Mystical and exotic portals
I came across a door in a narrow alley called Gali Chooriwallan, on which intricate work has been done, pictures of fables are etched on the windows. A hunter aiming at a lion and the lion in his turn is about to pounce on a deer. Other windows show parrots and skilfully crafted flowers. These doors are like portals to a bygone era, so mystical and exotic.
The Roman deity Janus is said to be the protector of gates and portals, as well as the protector of beginnings, endings, transitions, gates, portals, and time. The doors were first seen in paintings inside Egyptian tombs. These structures may seem trivial to many, but in the world of art and literature, they are often used as symbols of a beginning, an end, or a choice leading to an unknown path to take.
While reading, I came across countless numbers of doors that caught my attention. In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”, after falling into the rabbit hole, Alice finds herself surrounded by locked doors and the only key she can find is a door that’s far too small.
Ultimately, after finding a way to shrink down to her size, she manages to walk through the door, marking the start of her adventures in Wonderland.
The Chamber of Secrets
JK Rowling used different types of doors at different times in the Harry Potter series, to symbolize different stages in Harry’s life. A door such as the entrance to the “Chamber of Secrets” which has a striking symbol of seven snakes – one for each of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. The door to the Chamber of Secrets marks a transitional phase for Harry as he learns more about his complicated past and that of Lord Voldemort.
Doors and openings are symbolic structures that signify going through difficulties or challenges, entering new spaces and opportunities.
Ebenezer Scrooge’s door, in Charles Dickens’ 1843 novel “A Christmas Carol” for example. When Ebenezer arrives home on Christmas Eve, the story unfolds. The door knocker, a mundane but oversized piece of architectural hardware, briefly transforms into the face of its former business partner Jacob Marley, heralding the visit of the Three Ghosts who take Ebenezer on a journey of his misdeeds and failures to help him see the error of his ways.
The most magical and captivating door in literature is that of “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” by CS Lewis. During World War II, four children are taken to safety in a sprawling country mansion, full of mysterious nooks and crannies.
During a game of hide and seek, Lucy, the youngest of the children, discovers a cupboard that is in fact a door, a portal to the magical world of Narnia. The door, made of magical wood, transports the characters to another kingdom and another era.
There are love and bonding gates as well as enticing gates that lead to no man’s land. They announce us in different spheres – to our destiny. Jim Morrison, had rightly declared: “There are things known and there are things unknown and between the two there are doors.
Navanita Varadpande is a writer based in Gurugram, India. Twitter: @VpNavanita