Whenever R and I discuss marriage, we discuss a home loan. A bank that would lend us the capital for a snug shelter of our own. We would then do it up in colours we fancy and there would be wind chimes by the windows. And when we would walk to the building elevator, we would shut the door behind us. The door with a nice namecard that would bear our surname. Now, what is interesting here (apart from the dreaming I do) is how the home dreams always feature a building. What happened to the brick and mortar cottages with the very personal front garden?
Not that cottages don’t catch my fancy. Oh, they do. Where the shoe pinches is different. Buying a piece of land, getting people to get construction material, actually watching the house being constructed – would we be able to manage it? Even afford it? Is it even viable? Isn’t it infinitely easier to book an apartment and move in? But of course, if the former option were feasible, I wouldn’t think twice before giving it a nod. Seeing your house of dreams take shape in front of your eyes – can anything compare? However, some people seem to think otherwise. For them, it is much more interesting to watch their (former) house of dreams being torn to shreds.
I have been living in my colony in South Delhi for a good number of years – I was born here. (ah, did you think I would give away a number?) This place had all sorts of houses: big ones, little ones, single- storey-ed, double-floored. When you took a walk around, there would be people waving at you. “How have you been?” they would ask. “You’re so big!” There would be small kids playing in the balconies and bigger ones playing ball in the colony park.
When I now take a walk around, I do not see a familiar face. Not one. Okay, perhaps one. The elderly Uncle who worked with my Granddad still goes for his evening walk. He now uses a walking stick. His earlier companion – the ‘Sachin’ grandson – has gone off to greener pastures. What is sad is that even the houses aren’t the same. There are big ones the builders have made. The erstwhile owners have amassed wealth to splurge on limousines and trips to Canada. They now live in apartments elsewhere.
“Was there an emergency?” I asked Granddad once. “Why do you ask?” “The sudden need for money, you know…” “Oh, a world trip is an emergency you see.” he laughed. So, you are an England-returned. You have been on the Millennium wheel, hiked the English countryside. What about the childhood you spent in your now-destroyed house? Will you ever be able to reconstruct the alleyways you first learnt to walk in? Or rebuild the walls you drew your first crayon-drawing on?
I can understand a contingency. When you have no option but to sell. Or when you have to relocate and have no one who can use the house. Like I know people who had to sell for medical reasons. Some others in my extended family sold off when their business went bust. But how do you explain a wilful rampage? If you needed a fancier place, hire an interior decorator. Hell, if you are rich enough to harbour ‘rich’ hobbies, buy another house.
Maybe I am being naive. But I cannot stand the thought of your house being broken down in front of your eyes. The ones your Dada and Dadi built so lovingly.
R and I will one day have a house of our own, albeit in a building. But it will be ours. For pursuits frivolous and interests that transform by daylight , we won’t give up what we have dreamt so much about. Just the thought of someone going at our house with a bulldozer gives me the jitters. Bless our soul.