Tuesday, February 24, 2009


It was the beginning of the year 2008. I was engaged to be married to the love of my life. I had started slightly liking Mumbai because I knew I would be leaving it soon. Thankfully. I was staying with family in a very posh part of 'town'. Only I quite didn't like staying there.
One morning , I was travelling as usual to my workplace, I got a phone call. I would say that it was a defining phone call of my life. The next two days , let's say, was 2nd in the list of "the worst things to happen to me". Something happened because of which I had to leave the house and look for alternate accommodation. I say defining because I concluded a lot of things about human

nature and how we, as a family ,function. Maybe another post on what I concluded.

So, anyways , I got in touch with an agent and she took me to this huge flat at Nana Chowk. There was a lady who stayed there , all alone, apart from a caretaker. I had been to that place earlier , as one of my friends stayed there. Only when I went to meet her there , I never knew I would be moving to the same place someday.

I would be staying in that house for a little over a month. So , I didn't really take any interest in knowing my landlady. I had a room mate too, whom I didn't meet more than twice during my entire stay. On the first day ,I came back from office, locked my self in and started reading a book . The second night in that house , my landlady (I called her Aunty) came knocking at my door and gave me a bunch of takeaway menus. The next morning , I saw a cup of tea and biscuits outside my door. I looked up and saw Aunty peeping from her room with a sweet smile on her face. "It's complimentary" she said , "you don't have to pay for it !".

Here began my friendship with an 87 year old who had stayed all her life in this musty flat. I began looking forward to meeting this petite lady every morning over a cup of tea and biscuits. In the evenings , I stared visiting her room and she would talk about how this house used to bustle with energy in the "old days". We would watch K serials and the new Ramayan which started that time on the Idiot box, together. Aunty had this old glass shelf which was filled with curios . She once told me a man came and took many nick knacks from there and payed her 4000 rupees. I think he cheated her because a lot of what was there were antique silverware and Ming Dynasty china. She told me about a famous face reader and astrologer who used to come to this house frequently. That man also happened to be based in my hometown , in the south of Gujarat. She wanted me to look for him. She was out of touch with him for the last 20 years and needed to consult him.

I spent many pleasant evenings with Aunty watching serials and over dinner. I learnt that she was very well travelled and that she was a pioneer in a lot of social service initiatives in Mumbai.

Very soon , my stay at her place came to an end . I was leaving for Kolkata to get married. She gave me a pendant as a wedding gift. I believe it is a talisman of some kind.

All she did was to talk to me and give me tea and biscuits. And she has no idea how soothing that little act of kindness was, when some people in my own family have never bothered. I gradually got over what happened and she had applied the first coat of soothing balm. I haven't visited her after I left Mumbai, me been my lazy self. I don't know if she is even there in that giant musty flat of hers. She used to say she couldn't afford it any more. She reaffirmed my faith in people. I don't know how she is doing now , but I will always wish the best for her.

1 comment:

Roy said...

I don't even want to know about the second instance you are referring to, but one public unveiling of your diary was spectacular enough!

One piece of advice! GROW UP! Realize that there are some things in life which should not find expression in such a permanent form as in writing. Talking it out or even fighting it out is much better than making a permanent record of your fleeting moments of anger.