This is a real story of things gone awfully wrong, a misconceived idea. This story takes me long thirty years back into my childhood days. The crops of residential colonies or big towers were not in the horizon then, not atleast in a non nondescript township of Dombivli, some thirty kilometers off Mumbai. It was donned by people living a chawls, tenements built by local Agri (land tillers) people who suddenly found their luck flourishing by sudden boom of property hunters in their city. Almost without giving a second thought these local landlords destroyed their farming land and erected chawls all over there. In the initial phase they would let these houses on “deposit” or “pagdi” system. Later, after a decade or so, bigger sharks came in form of builders who built buildings and these original landlords sold their land recklessly. Not all, but a large chunk of these “seth” as we would call them, are now back to square one, with their money spent on lavish lifestyle which included heavy gold ornaments and bikes or cars.
So, here we resided in one such chawl, in fact two chawls faced each others and there were 21 such houses, it was a big family as such, each one supported the other. Especially, in the night time, when sometimes the electricity in the area would go all of a sudden. The entire chawl would come out and it was fun and frolic, women groups, men folk and we kids would have good time playing in the dim moonlight.
There was one Gujarati family, a small family of four. Gujarati people are business minded and business oriented people as such. These people are the most amicable people around and would always be the last ones to be reason for anything wrong. This family was also one such, they mingled perfectly in the Marathi dominated chawl. They were fluent in Marathi and had accepted Marathi as their second language as their kids too went to Marathi medium schools. They were very simple, down to earth people. They earned enough to be termed a middle class family.
Insecurity leads to sleepless night. One such incident took place that summer vacation, that caused a sense of insecurity in the minds of this lovable family. During summer vacations, there were some thefts in the neighborhood. The burglars broke in through the mangalorean tiles on the roof and looted the house that was locked with the family out on vacation. Somehow, the Gujarati lady in our chawl took shock of the theft. She started imagining that her house too could be burgled the same way. She started feeling insecure. She said it openly. The little jewellery that she had, she would find strange places in her house to hide. Places like, the top cover of the ceiling fan, packet hidden in chilly powder tin etc. Innocently, she would confide to other ladies in the chawl and would tell them to do the same.
This temporarily gave her sense of security, but it was temporary in nature. She wanted to have a ceiling roof in her house so that the thieves would not bang in from the mangalorean tiles on the roof. She had made up her mind that she would leave this chawl and shift in a building in the neighborhood to save from thieves. She managed to convince her reluctant husband and somehow managed to pool funds to buy this one bedroom flat on “deposit” basis.
Now, the lady was feeling secure. That now her house was safe and there would be no theft. She would visit the chawl in the afternoon and would quite often mention that now she has good sleep in the night as there would be no theft in her house. She would lock her house and come to our chawl to mingle with the ladies.
She came that day too, she chatted with the women folk and left to get her kids at school. By 5.00 pm she reached her “safe” house to find the lock broken and door left ajar open. To her shock she found that her house had been burgled and the thief had a field day they managed to loot as much as possible.
The news of the theft spread like a wildfire, the lady was shocked, to put it mildly.
Though, i could not keep track with this family for many years now, but, i heard that they have shifted from this place too to find a more “secure” place.
Published by vijay joshi