by Padmaja Menon
“Ooooh, what a lovely house they have built!” I exclaimed. And indeed it was a lovely house. A dream house. Built on a large plot, definitely not a 60/40 plot but maybe less than an acre. Designer garden and arbour and love seats. The house itself was like a palace with a beautiful copper effect front door. A light focused on it at all times so that the effect was stunning. We would comment on all its positive aspects during our daily walks and the ‘house’ ‘grew’ in front of our eyes .
“I wonder to whom it belongs”, I would soliloquy and my husband would snap, “Why do you care? Must be some Reddys” He hated it if his wife praised any other house but the house he had built!
“My Taj Mahal for you,” he would sing or at least try to! “Remember it was a Kabr?” I would warn.
“No chance, after all you are not Mumtaz!” he would parry.
Our bantering was the highlight of our 30 year old marriage but we were like the proverbial rocks of Gibraltar for each other, always there in times of need or otherwise.
The year went by and before long the ‘house warming of the ‘house’ took place also a predictably grandiose affair, even attended by the corporators of the area (incidentally the owner turned out to be one of the corporators).
We had to walk by a different route that day because of the hi-fi array of cars in the road.
After that life and walks went on…….Sometimes we would be able to see the occupants in the house swinging in the loveseat or peeping out or trailing their hands in the lotus pool or walking their dogs or just strolling in the garden. The number of cars parked in the driveway increased to 4….a CRV, a Merc, a Honda City……
“The house is built according to vastu….see the flow of wealth…” my erstwhile husband would comment. I wasn’t a real believer of all these stuff…and would hurrumph rudely.
North facing is good, South facing is bad…T-junction is very bad…. Water body should be on the south west…. Agni moolah should be in the south east and so on and so forth. You should follow what was convenient to you not go overboard was my mantra. But I let my husband be because he was a builder and he needed some vastu to sell his business…His trade line said. Vibrant Vastu builders. Each to his own…
I did a bit of Fengshui…hanging windchimes and placing the bamboo plant but it was because I got an unexpected job offer as soon as I was presented with a wind chime for Mother’s day by my daughter! I had reason to believe that it had been lucky. But then another Fengshui buy turned out unlucky. I picked up one of those golden frogs with the coin in its mouth. I dreamt that before long gold coins would be filling up our coffers. My husband was going through a difficult patch in his work and this buy was my way of helping him.
Unfortunately a few days later our beloved pet Daschund died. Just like that without any rhyme or reason. He was a lovable, adorable sweetheart and he just died. At that time my younger daughter was also going through a bad phase and there were frequent temper tantrums at home too. In short it was a very depressing period and the sorrow of my older daughter at her pet’s death was enough to throw me into the throes of despair.
Some Fengshui frog. I caught hold of the erring frog and flung it out of the window to the next empty
plot. (incidentally a house has come up there and the inmates have three dogs). Of course flinging the frog would not bring back Bingo…but I felt good. It could be a case of one man’s meat and another man’s poison…..
My daughter’s wedding preparations were going on and we were so busy that we had to forego our walks.
We got back to our daily routine, maybe after two months or so and when we reached the ‘house’ we stopped short in our tracks. Some workers were hammering it and breaking it. The designer garden, the love seat, the arbour were all just rubble. Gone were the lush poinsettia, the roses, the creeping ivy on the walls, the lotus pool…..
So shocked were we that we just sat down on one of those road dividers and stared.
Around the house an aluminum barrier was erected and you could hear noises of the chisel and hammer.
"They must be changing the design”, I murmured. My husband looked somewhat ashen. He said “I had heard something about a freak death the other day, I think it concerns this house.” My heart turned cold. Oh no, not a tragedy. I prayed.
We returned home as we didn’t have the energy to walk the walk . A few phone calls confirmed our fears. The ‘waris’of the family was no more. A youth of 26. We had seen him on and off. The truth of his death was stranger than fiction. Master Reddy had a bet with his friend that he could ride a bike still ….as well as before. The friend said that his bike days were over and he was now ‘a car and driver saab’.
Master Reddy was affronted and he took up the challenge. It was a stormy and rainy day, the typical Bangalore rains with gusty winds that uprooted the delicate Gulmohar trees…. As the youngster rode well and ‘showed off’ to his friend a hefty branch of a tree slightly ahead hung precariously… held by a very thin margin…..As the boy whizzed past, this branch fell…….. and fell…..The boy reached under the tree….a gust of wind moved the branch ever so slightly and it fell ……crashing half in and half out on top of the bike. More than the weight of the branch it was the shock that made the boy lose balance and veer away. He skidded and blinded by the leaves did not see where he was heading. He crashed into the road divider and fell hitting his head and into instant death and oblivion…
It had been in the papers and there had been talks but we had just not had the time to pay attention….or link it to the ‘house’….
I fought with my husband and asked him to justify his Vastu..
“It is not Vastu kala but Vastu kola” I screamed. The poor mother, the helpless father, the only sister…. Was wealth everything? Were cars everything? Why? why? Paavum…people .
“You cannot blame Vastu, it was just their fate” he argued. “So fate is the ultimate leveller na ?”
My husband had to agree. It was true. Death was the final leveller. No one can escape their fate. A bike ride to nowhere was the boys fate.
Today an inexplicable silence fills the people of the ‘house'. They could not bear to wait everyday for the door to open and to not see their beloved son come striding in through the door in good health and vigor. They had to get away from the ‘house’. They sold it and now the new proud owners were building something else……. Were they following Vastu? I wondered…. The world watches and waits…… The ‘House’ was ironically named ‘Umang’.