The Harem Shade in the Red Fort of Agra

The ghost, it is supposed, come forth to the upper air.  Every door post is pitched to light the way for the earthly souls.  Near the gardens of the Taj Mahal stands the important 16th-century Mughal monument where the shadows of the wondering shades still linger.  The shadow bore witness to families, sacrifice, love, and its own departure.  Amidst all this, the arts within these walls were never forgotten.  The musical revels echo through the garden if you hold still long enough to hear. Nor the petting choir of song and dance in honor of their Sultan.

The chambers of the harem house the shade of the wonderer but never the change, the change of seasons that brought its state victory or defeat.  The blossoming of the marigolds hear the voice of the fragrant spring and whisper them along to all who will hear; when yellow clusters are flung on the lap of the earth; and the sweet smell of wine and lust become braided in the hair and the choirs chanting hymns to their king; the heart of the earthly become overflowed with merriment.

Always there for the abundant jollity the shade is never invited to share in the universal revel behind the sandstone walls.  The palace is alive with the bustle and fun of the harem as the conjuring’s and scent of wine fill up the hours.  The wondering shade looks to join the procession by the torch light, but never can.  In the darkness it remained, and now the concubines, royals, musicians and teachers now join the shade as the earthly souls once again wonder the halls and gardens while they can never join but only watch from the shadows.


Words by Keishla Gonzalez-Quiles

Photography by Oscar Diaz

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