There is a packet of cigarettes on your desk. It is a foreign brand; not the type I occasionally buy. It looks pristine; unlike the wrinkled characteristic everything I own acquires. My dilapidated house is the last in a row.
I see the commercial plans and drawings on the easels. Everything has fine straight lines. There are little dots of greenery, blue canals, fountains, and what looks like a cascade of plants. “That is the green wall. It is sustainable art, very effective in controlling temperature,” you smile as you go on to explain its features. I gently nod. “I have already signed the papers,” I interrupt. “I know,” you smile and carry forth, “You must see how we will reuse the water.” I am embarrassed by your enthusiasm.
Your earnestness has caused delay in my plans; I was supposed to be home by the time it started raining, but now standing at the weathered down bus stop I can feel the gusts of rain slap against my body. I call out to the autorickshaw. I know he is going to overcharge me, but the thought of having just sold my house weighs me down.
The door creaks open. The water is now leaking through the roof. I run to place a bucket below it. It has left a patch on the ceiling. As I stare at it, I also notice the walls have turned yellow with neglect. I finally admit to myself that a part of me is glad I have sold this place. I exhale.
Not money, nor time, or inclination for that matter, can recover what is mixed in this hollow cement. The fine lies and coarse comments, which comprise the aggregates of this composite. This tangled slum of crushed stone written on crisp white A4 sheets, titled “inheritance”; now all yours to deal with.
Part of the sale deed ensures that I am given a two-bedroom apartment in the new multi-storey units. I watch the construction everyday. It is a complex. Each detail has been planned. Electricity outlets hide behind hoods. Italian marble shines and winks. The crystal chandeliers shimmer. There are no hanging wires; no unfinished edges. The new house smells of fresh paint; a bunch of flowers have been delivered from you “for the new homeowner” along with the keys, and an invitation to lunch.
I walk from the apartments towards the attached shopping mall, “an international shopping experience now in your own locality”. I amble by the fountain, stroking its granite perfection. The stores twinkle. I look at a Persian rug in one of the windows. “Can I help you with anything ma’am?” an earnest voice calls out to me. “Just browsing,” I mechanically answer. “Please feel at home” pats comes the reply. I smile, “I will”.