Sarita stared at her landlord in silent horror. She had been dreading this moment for a while now – yet when he uttered those words, she was not quite prepared for them.
“Please vacate the place”.
He looked at her kindly and said softly, “Take your time. One month, even two months. I wouldn’t have asked you to vacate but my sister is coming to stay in this town and she has asked me to arrange this place for her.”
She remembered him being all fatherly when she began living there.”You are like my daughter. I just want good people living in my house.” What a fraud he was. If she were to visit the place again in six months’ time, she’d find another tenant living there happily.
She noticed that landlords in Punjab seemed to get extremely agitated if a tenant were to stay at their place for longer than two or three years. As it is, the whole renting process was vague. There was hardly any rent agreement, or any other kind of paperwork involved. The rent was paid in cash, so no transaction could be claimed. And of course, there was no receipt provided.
She sighed – she knew what lay ahead of her now. Finding another place, with all its attendant difficulties meant starting the process all over again. And that, just when she was beginning to get comfortable in her current place. Finding another house in a decent locality, facing the questions the new landlord asked. “Where is your husband?”, “How many children do you have?”, “What is your salary?”, “Do you get many visitors?”, “No single males allowed to visit you”.
Apart from that, she would have to contend with steadily rising rents, having to cope with fitting her furniture into a smaller or a larger house, removing her electrical fittings and fixing them in a new house. Packing. Unpacking.
Her heart sank.
That night she spoke to her mother. “The landlord has asked me to vacate this house, Ma”
Her mother started her usual tirade. She knew Sarita could not come and live with her in Amritsar because her job required her to stay put in Ludhiana. Ever since Sarita’s husband had died, her mother had worried about her living alone in that city. Sarita’s only brother ran a flourishing business in Amritsar.
“Ma,” Sarita said, a tad impatiently, “we know all that. I now need to leave this house and that’s that.”
Ma was old now and getting on. She could not help rambling. She exchanged some more news and put the phone down.
On Sunday, Sarita was pleasantly surprised to see her brother Ashok land up at her doorstep early in the morning.
“Baby,” he began. (Sarita’s nickname was Baby and that is what her brother and mother still called her) “That land that we have in the village. Ma always talks about transferring it in your name. I told her, let us sell this land and buy Baby a house in Ludhiana. What do you say?”
Sarita could feel tears forming in her eyes. Her spirits rose. She was to have a place of her own.
She looked at many houses along with her brother, trying to find something that suited her requirement as well as the budget. When she saw THIS place, she knew she had to get it. And she did!
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