What pegman saw : Decay lurked in every petal


Google Street View of Burhhanpur


Jahan stood at the balcony, the lazy brown curl of the Tapti River winding below.

On the water, a fisherman threw his soaked net with a practiced swing, a pair of snake-necked comorants diving from the muddy shore into the boil of panicked fish.

Men still ate and drank, slept and toiled. How did they not know the world had changed? His own body was no better – his heart beat strong as ever, his treacherous stomach roiled from lack of food.

All this and she was gone.

The heavy scent of flowers drifted from the water’s edge as it always had but now the stink of rot undercut the sweetness, decay seeming to lurk inside each fleshy petal.

He left the fisherman to his work, left behind the glare of the sun for the shadows of his palace and the body of his love.


Written for What pegman saw, a writing prompt based on Google street view. See here to join in and to read the other tales.

Now, I know you’ll wonder how I reached this story from the image, but if you click on it and have a look round, you’ll see the lazy Tapti and the ruins of the Shahi Qila palace, Burhanpur, built by the 17th century Moghul emperor known as Shah Jahan. It was in Burhanpur that his beloved wife Mumtaz died after giving birth to one of the their childrenand it was for Mumtaz that he built the beautiful mausoleum, the Taj Mahal.


30 thoughts on “What pegman saw : Decay lurked in every petal

  1. Isn’t it amazing how you can be inspired from one photo/location. I love where you took this. It’s a lot more earthier than mine. Very enjoyable. I had visions of the cormorants from seeing films/images. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rochelle. They’re an interesting couple – he had many wives, but he clearly loved her most of all. And what a wonderful monument, the Taj Mahal! Thanks for reading 🙂


  2. Wow, splendid story from the photo to how you got to the story idea. Love the phrase ‘lazy brown curl,’ so playful and perfect. The scent description is funny: I was thinking something similar about our hot tub recently, how it reminds me of the sea: a kind of fresh scent but there’s an undercurrent of something dead or dying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Bill. I find this a lot with flowers, that they are sweet and pleasant, but have a whiff of something not so nice too. I love the scent of privet flowers and hawthorne, but my husband thinks privet smells of wee and I read hawthorne smells of rotting flesh so it attracts insects! Not sure what that says about my taste in scents … 🙂 And you’re so right about the sea – a smell I also love!


  3. This story is heavy with grief. I could totally feel the emptiness of loss, that feeling of “How can everyone else keep doing normal things after the world has turned upside down? Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Alicia. I remember feeling that when my dad died – the surreal feeling that no one except me and my brother noticed he had gone. I’m glad you felt it worked 🙂


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