About a month away from Arjun's birthday, my landlord decides to throw a tantrum.The timing couldn't have been more perfect.My million dollar maid was on vacation for a month and i had 2 young cousins of V coming home for the school summer break. So yeah, back to the landlord. He wants to come home for an inspection, we happily obliged. He didn't seem to have a problem with the way we have been maintaining his house, he admitted it's better kept than his - and also,dropped a nugget or two of his late father's wisdom that a clean kitchen and a cleaner bathroom is an indication of a well maintained house. In other words, we qualified for his late father's praise and compliment.
We also maintained a lovely green patch and a mini pond. We had about some 50 potted plants and some lovely fish swimming in the gleaming sunlight reflected water.He looked around and then, he just lost it that his 15-yr old well maintained tiles are rusty and spoiled.Of course, the color of mud that spills from the pots while watering is the 'rust' and the water scales have done his tiles in. We were both taken aback, he orders us to keep just 10 pots and the rest can be moved to his bland garden downstairs and we should continue maintaining them there and the mini-pond, apparently is bending his concrete roof and cracks are showing up. I was very flustered, i didn't wait to negotiate - i just confronted him that he was complaining after 18 months and if at all, he had problems with keeping plants at home, he should have objected in the very beginning and that portico-stretch was meant for plants and those cracks existed even before we moved in. He stopped short and then mumbled something. He said if at all we loved plants, we should enjoy the coconut and gulmohar trees around, see there is so much of green cover around.But, those rust stains should go and asked us for a timeline. We were like ok. Give us 2 days and mind you, we cannot use chemicals, we should use soap and water.
The jolt was so sudden that we both didn't know how to react. So many mornings and evenings, we have had our cuppa there, spent quiet moments of reading and listening to the chirps of our feathered friends and enjoyed the blossoms. Suddenly, the love and comfort that sanctuary provided just slipped by. I felt disdain and pity for this old grumpy Reddy.He comes from a generation where his father worked hard to put him into a REC and got him some privileged land in Jubilee Hills while he landed a civil engineer'post in the State Govt. Everything came easy with the babu-giri. Appreciation of finer things seemed a distant thing for this old man.
His nagging got worse, we didn't get affected anymore. He was not happy that the stains went away, he finds the tiles duller and the shine gone.Ok, after 15 years definitely.We asked him pointblank, what he wanted.I told him, i will remove all the pots and the pond within a week.He gave me a smug look of satisfaction, he still tried to be reasonable and asked us to shift the pots to his garden and we could continue to look after them there. I conveyed to him that i'd give away the plants for free to anyone but not shift to his garden.Sorry.
Thankfully, i had enough and more friends willing to adopt my plants and fishes and, in record time, got them moved to their new happy homes.
The next few spanners were even more bewildering.Sonny boy had just learnt how to stand and wobble around. The two young cousins loved to play with him, so some thuds and tapping of feet.Old man sends us a warning not to walk around with heavy sounds.Ok. Then, the use-water-within-rations, despite us paying 700 bucks every moment and there being a borewell, not like we waste rivers. But he won't repair the leaking cistern and the taps that have given away.He expects us to adjust despite the handsome rent we pay.It was getting very annoying. We asked him if he wanted us to leave the house, he said no.Then, i recollected, he had wanted an untimely rent hike within the 1st one year in the name of inflation though our rental agreement stated the 10 percent hike would happen in 2 years. And, i had put my foot down strongly that if i had to accommodate his out of agreement demands, god alone knows what all i should be prepared for,going forward.So, the agreement was a farce? He withdrew then. So, the growing and annoying menace was part of his getting back at us for refusing him his untimely hike.
I stopped feeling harassed. I felt really sorry for him for all the petty tricks he was trying. His poor wife with severe varicose veins wanted to learn how to bake cookies at my place, i was polite. His elder son still addressed me warmly as Bhabhi.To make matters more annoying, these two young cousins took great delight in plucking raw mangoes from his backyard on those sleepy summer afternoons. How can you ask young teenagers not to? One can't keep count of the number of mangoes but he definitely counted his pomegranates which reached our long running corridor.
I let go, asked V to let go and not feel provoked. We had the best memories in this house - we had just moved from the US, couldn't have been happier with such a spacious old world house, high ceilings, a European bath-tub and such amazing foliage.The ornate book-shelves, the amount of open space Sonny boy had to feel his feet, the number of slumber parties and sleepovers of our friends, the unending movie-sessions.
It was only a matter of time before we picked up the cosmic signals. Destiny wanted us to move to a newer pasture,to newer opportunities and to a new city. We had gotten way too comfortable with our beloved city and why not- the city where i was born, the city where V moved in as a child with his parents, the city which brought V and me together, the city where our Sonny boy was born, a city special for so many reasons.
Time to move on, time to pack our bags, time to be ready for change.Always.