Still on a Halloween theme…
The big, crumbling and seemingly empty house in these pictures, which I took during my stay in Yangon, stood at the side of a road a little way after the compound of Sein Yaung Chi Pagoda and a little way before the southern entrance to Shwedagon Pagoda.
Sealed off from the road by a line of high, spear-like railings, abandoned, and with nobody to maintain it, the house had gradually deteriorated beneath the relentless Myanmar sun and rain. Its walls had become blistered and blighted, its panels of corrugated-iron eaten by red rust, and much of its grounds swallowed up by vegetation.
It reminded me a little of the short story The Shunned House, written in 1924 (though not published until 1937) by H.P. Lovecraft. The titular house in this story stood ‘leering as a symbol of all that is unutterably hideous’ and, according to the narrator, “(w)hat I had heard in my youth about the shunned house was merely that people died there in alarmingly great numbers… It was plainly unhealthy, perhaps because of the dampness and fungus growth in the cellar, the general sickish smell, the draughts of the hallway, or the quality of the well or pump water.”
But I doubt if this spooky old house in Yangon had quite the same nightmarish features as the house in Lovecraft’s story – like, for example, its fungi, which were “detestable parodies of toadstools and Indian pipes, whose like we had never seen in any other situation. They rotted quickly, and at one stage became slightly phosphorescent; so that nocturnal passers-by sometimes spoke of witch-fires burning behind the broken panes of the foetor-spreading windows.”
Looking at these pictures now, I realise what gives the house its creepy demeanour. It’s seeing its decaying façade through a veil of foliage – especially those big, barbed fronds, which make it look like it’s guarded by rows of sinister tendrils and teeth.