The Accursed House by Emile Gaboriau

Emile Gabriau is a French writer who has beautifully described the paradoxes of this world in his story ”The Accursed House’. It is really difficult to understand the working of human mind. If someone charges his customers extra money, people would doubt him, but, still forgive him for succumbing to greed. But, if  someone decides to charge less money for his service, people will eye him with greater suspicion.

This is what happens when Vimcomte inherit his Grand uncle’s property and being man of principals, decides to reduce the exorbitant rent charged by his uncle. With good intentions, he hopes to win his tenants’ hearts. But, he surely misunderstood his tenants’ capriciousness as all hell breaks loose when they learn of their new landlord’ s benevolence.

They doubt that there must be something terribly wrong with the building. In no time, rumours of the building being dilapidated, haunted and bearing illegal activities start spreading like fire in jungle. People even brand him as a criminal hiding something suspicious in the building. His reputation dwindles. Poor Vimcomte, who set out to do a charity work is blamed for bringing bad name and ill-luck to his illustrious family.

This seems entirely true of this world. People cannot digest any unsolicited favour. An innocent action creates deadly Tsunami, the charity is unheeded and even his well wishers bay for his blood.Irony is indeed a companion of innocence. Nobody can believe that the other person’s intentions are well and he doesn’t want anything in return for a good deed. Possibly, no one believes you to be so good that you can do someone a favour without any hidden motive. Human mind has become so accustomed to the filth, that anything clean evokes suspicion of being unhealthy.

While reading story, I remembered an old story telecasted on Doordarshan years ago. The story was set in a distant hilly village and was centered around an Autistic young man who was innocent like a kid despite coming of age. A new teacher joins the village school and out of motherly affection, invites him to play in her house. She sympathizes with his condition and tries to lessen his difficulties by educating him to some extent. But villagers become skeptical of her intentions and brand her a characterless woman trying to take advantage of the mentally challenged young man. At last, she has to leave the village. Her charity towards a poor man drowned all her reputation.

The accursed House is a sharp sarcasm on the society, exposing people’s shallow understanding arising from their poor mentality, coloring their judgment, confusing their sense of good or bad. A good attempt to bring out the audaciousness of people in a humorous, playful way with excellent command on train of thoughts. Kudos to Emile for writing such an entertaining moral story!


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