Mr. and Mrs. Ramalingam have lived a major part of their married life in a lot of cities in India –thanks to Mr. Rama’s job. But despite the influence of multiple cultures Mrs. Rama has kept her orthodox ways still alive. Mr. Rama on the other hand had no such preferences but to avoid any conflict of interest agreed to Mrs. Rama –always.
After having traversed the length and breadth of the country they settled down in the erstwhile garden city known as Bangalore. With the upsurge in IT which brought more people into the city a lot of residents saw an opportunity in earning additional income from a rental property. The Ramas’ were not to be left behind and had joined the bandwagon to construct the first floor of their tenement. Not a single house in the entire colony was single floored. But as luck had it, Mr. Rama never had their first floor occupied for more than three months by a tenant. Some or the other issue would come –a few within their capability but most of them out of their control- and the first floor would have the “To-Let” sign board hanging out more often than not. Moreover it would not have been this bad a feeling had at-least one family in the colony been in the same situation but alas, all the other houses had a rich tenant occupancy history. With old age and nothing else more demanding the Ramas’ took this as a personal challenge and told themselves that the next person inquiring about the house would not be leaving without signing the Rental Agreement.
A week passed… and then another, but no one came. Mr. Rama was losing his cool while Mrs. Rama had started bribing her favorite deity. One afternoon there was a sharp knock at about 4:00 PM. There were very less visitors to The Ramas’ leave apart at this time of the day. Mr. Rama was enjoying a nice siesta and thought that if there was another knock he would address it –least should it be some kind of salesperson. As he was thinking this another urgent knock almost shook him up. He didn’t want to get up but the knocking did not stop and finally he obliged.
“One minute” said Mr. Rama to the invisible visitor.
“Rama saar, its me Selvam –your broker”
“Oh, yes yes, wait I’ll come”, answered Mr. Rama as he wrapped his lungi, took the keys of the first floor and went to open the door. Mrs. Rama though did not move an inch from the bed, but had her ears rapt trying to hear what urgent news Selvam would have got –surely it has to be the one that they have been waiting for so long but she did not want to think about it; should that bring ill luck.
Mr. Rama opened the door with a smile, and found only Selvam standing, no one to his right or left. His smile dropped –“Where? Where is the new tenant?”
Now it was Selvam’s time to smile –“Saar, can I come in?”
“Sure, sure… come in” said Mr. Rama and hoped Selvam had some good reasons to wake him up from his afternoon sleep.
“I could not reach your mobile phone and your landline was being reported to be out of order… anyways, I have a potential tenant who is searching for a house like a mad man. I thought of showing him your house to begin with”, said Selvam as he had much to gain from this deal. A higher commission was promised provided a deal materialized.
Mr. Rama was rapt as a shaft –he wanted this new tenant. In the bedroom Mrs. Rama was half hanging out of the bed trying hard to listen to the conversation going out in the drawing room.
“Ok, the house is ready. Where is the mad man? Sorry, I meant the tenant”, said Mr. Rama as he imagined his stature rise in the colony.
“I will bring him. He is waiting in my office”, said Selvam as he hurried out of the house.
In the meanwhile Mr. Rama changed to decent clothing while Mrs. Rama went back to her lying position as if she’s been unaware with the activities.
About 10 minutes later Selvam was back with a tall lanky guy with long unkempt hair wearing wrinkled jeans and some funky T-shirt. Mr. Rama almost gave a cry of horror. He had imagined someone decent would be occupying the house.
“Err… Abhijeet meet Mr. Rama… he is the owner of the place. Very nice person…”, cajoled Selvam.
“Hi dude” said Abhi extending his hand. Mr. Rama took it… and blurted out a strict “Hello”.
He handed over the keys to Selvam who rushed upstairs to do what he best does, selling. Abhijeet followed the sleeky businessman.
Mr. Rama was confused now. He wanted a tenant but Abhi did not seem quite like the tenant that he would fancy. Before he could make up his mind of whether he would rent the first floor to him or not, Selvam was calling his name.
“Saar, good news; Abhi likes the place, the rent is fine and he would want to shift right away”, Selvam gave a toothy smile. This was the deal he had been waiting for.
“Well, I was… err… just wondering if you would mind if I ask you where you worked? Just curious, you know”, Mr. Rama tried to force a smile.
“Well, to be honest I’m searching for a job, lets see…” answered Abhi and this did not go too well with Mr. Rama.
“I mean, don’t worry about the advance and rent. I have that ready with me” added Abhi, as he realized that Mr. Rama might be concerned about that.
The rest of the evening was a frenzy of activities as Abhi loaded up the house. The Ramas’ contemplated inviting the new tenant for dinner but then gave up the thought. As soon as their concern of having a tenant was answered, they had another concern –Abhi did not actually seem quite promising as a tenant. But then having a tenant was a bigger concern. Moreover the past had not been good for them and with Abhi they had very little hope that he’d be able to cross the much touted 3 month period.
It did not take them long to foster a dislike for Abhi. Like any youth he stomped his way up the stairs which would send Mrs. Rama on a little prayer trail –should the walls fall apart. Abhi had a habit of staying awake till the wee hours and whenever he walked around his house The Ramas’ knew exactly where he was. Another annoying factor was that Abhi played loud music which interfered with The Ramas’ quite and solitary life.
On one particular evening about a month or so after Abhi moved in, there seemed to be above normal exuberance in the first floor. The music was loudly being played [though not annoying] earlier than the usual time, a few of his friends had gathered and apparently they seem to be gearing up for some kind of party. This was nonsense and Mr. Rama would not tolerate anymore. He had rented out a flat not a party hall. He expected decency from the tenant but this fellow seemed to be least concerned about the comforts of other around him. Just as Mr. Rama prepared his speech and was about to summon Abhi to give the tongue lashing, someone knocked.
“Hi, uncle… how are you?” Abhi asked with a ready smile.
“I am fine… what are you guys up-to?” asked Mr. Rama, he could smell beer and forgot all about his well prepared speech.
“Ah… we’re just having a little fun. I was wondering if you would want to join us… all my friends are here” asked Abhi, a twinkle in his eyes.
“No, I’ve got some chores to attend to… you guys carry on and… well, never-mind” and saying this Mr. Rama went in. He figured out that it was futile to talk to the boy now; he was half under the influence of alcohol. And the more he thought about it the more furious he became. The fellow seemed to be crossing all limits. Mr. Rama in his 65 years had never tasted this vile stuff and here was his tenant hardly 25 and doing all that he disliked. Tomorrow morning he would see to it that all this nonsense is stopped and it did not matter if he had to do away with the tenant, there is a limit to everything –he told himself. The music did not get louder but he could smell non-vegetarian food being cooked upstairs. As he closed the windows he tried to make a mental note to tell Selvam to get him only vegetarian tenants. Mrs. Rama on the other hand had lighted double the incense sticks and preferred to spend more time with the deities. The night lasted with no fresh discomforts.
Early next day at 6:30 AM they heard Abhi leave the house. Mr. Rama’s audience was leaving even before the first line was delivered. By the time he could open the door to stop Abhi, he was flying past. “Good morning uncle… be ready today, we’ll go out for dinner.”
Even before Mr. Rama’s brain could process what his ears heard, the sender of the information was out of his vision. He just shook his head in disbelief as he went inside the house after picking up the newspaper from the foyer.
“What did he say? Where is he going so early today?” asked Mrs. Rama as she brought out coffee.
“God only knows…” he said as he perched his glasses to read the comics section in the paper.
“Were you able to talk to him?”
“No, he just flew past… I’ll talk to him tonight”, said Mr. Rama as he sipped the coffee, eyes not moving from the best part of the newspaper.
At about 12:30 in the afternoon Mr. Rama’s phone started ringing, the number seemed to be our own dude’s.
“Hey uncle… its me Abhi, got a minute?”
“Just wanted to make sure that you heard me when I said that we’d be going out for dinner today…”
“Ya… er, actually…”
“Oh cool, tell aunty that even she has to come… Ok, see you then, gotta go” and the line went dead. Mr. Rama did not know how to comprehend this. Why was he so insistent in taking them out? Did he want to talk about something and thought of setting up the stage, I am not taking the bait. By the way, what place was he planning to take them? And should I offer to foot the bill? No I will not!
“What are you thinking about? Who was on the line?” asked Mrs. Rama.
“Oh, what did he do now? I tell you one thing very clearly, we are not going to tolerate his nonsense anymore… he’s not exactly the way we wanted our tenant to be…”
“He’s asked us to join him for dinner”, Mr. Rama cut her.
“Oh…” Mrs. Rama’s jaws dropped “Us? He’s invited even me”
“That is what he said. Specifically asked me to ensure that even you’re ready”
Now it was Mrs. Rama’s time to think –What should I wear? Will there be other people also? Do I have matching jewelry?
But they both were not able to comprehend one question –Why was Abhi taking them out? And unable to find an answer they gave up and waited for the events to unfold.
At around 7 PM or so Abhi stormed past there balcony and on seeing them seated in the verandah came back. He seemed quite excited. “So, you guys ready?” he asked with a big smile on his face.
“Well, Abhi you see… er… we’ve been trying to understand what is this all about? I mean, don’t be offended but…”
“Oh, oh… my my my… I am so so so sorry...” he jumped in, raising his eyebrows, as he realized that he had simply skipped telling them –“I got a job! And today happened to be our first day… I should have told you. I thought I did… never mind. So… are we ready now”.
With that all their questions were answered…
This was good news for the Ramas as well, since it meant that he would be spending less time at home… “Oh, oh that is great news! Congratulations, I am extremely pleased” added Mr. Rama and apparently it seemed [for a little time though] that Mr. Rama was happier than Abhi for his job.
“Abhi, thoda Kapi?” Mrs. Rama chipped in, not be left behind in this round of celebration as she held up her hand to show the size of a small coffee cup that she intends to bring for him. She was glad for the boy.
“No aunty, not today. We’ll have it out… you guys get ready, I’ll be done in about half an hour, and the place… well you choose it. Where ever you want, we’re going there” and he vanished as soon as he completed that statement.
That evening was one of the finest times that they had spent together. The Ramas were taken to a very fine South Indian restaurant (of their choice) and they had some really amazing cuisines. Abhi encouraged them to try our new stuff and not worry about the price of anything. Later then went to an ice-cream parlor where Mr. Rama had his favorite Badam-Pista while Mrs. Rama stuck to her Vanilla. That evening Abhi introduced them to Shikha who was a friend of his. But the old eyes could figure out the chemistry between the young hearts. Apparently both of them approved of Shikha… she seemed to be a lovely and well cultured girl; though they found it odd enough for her to hang around with someone like Abhi. But anyways they were too busy enjoying themselves to be thinking of something else.
Mr. Rama was completely impressed by Shikha’s presence and so he did not notice that after the customary good byes and good nights, Shikha went up to Abhi’s place and that she did not leave till the early hours of the next day. But Mrs. Rama did and she preferred to keep it to herself. Over the next couple of days all the residents of their colony knew that the Ramas were invited by their tenants, which apparently was a big boost to their social standing.
Just as things were getting better in the owner-tenant relationship there came a bolt from the dark which caused a lot of uneasiness among the Ramas. Since the evening when they had obliged to the dinner, Shikha’s visits had become alarmingly frequent with more than half her exits being in the wee hours of the morning.
The Ramas though conservative were too captivated by Shikha’s presence to tell her that staying overnight with a guy before you’re married to him is not something that a well cultured girl should be doing and so they decided to just turn a blind eye to the fact and act as if nothing was wrong. But not for a long time. About a couple of months or so later their maid Kantabai dropped the bomb. Apparently like all maids Kantabai played the part of the gossip monger of the colony and charged nothing extra for her additional services. Talk about going the extra mile for customer excellence!
“Krishna Akka, I heard something about your tenant… you know… from Mrs. Reddy, the last but one house in our row? Well and I wanted to check with you if there was any element of truth in that” asked Kantabai.
Mrs. Rama immediately stopped chopping the vegetables. Years of experience of dealing with Kantabai told Mrs. Rama that what she was about to hear had well traversed the length and breadth of the colony and Mrs. Reddy’s name was just a placeholder.
“Tenant? You mean Abhi? Oh, what is it?” she acted as if she herself was interested and at the same time prayed to God that it should not be about Shikha.
“No, nothing serious. Actually she was saying that she had seen some girl at the first floor and was asking me if you had rented the apartment to a married couple… but I told them… I told them very clearly that you have only a guy staying there and that she must have seen something else…” saying that Kantabai looked at Mrs. Rama waiting for the answer.
The cat was out of the bag. Mrs. Rama had to think fast.
“Oh, that girl ah? Yaaa yaaa, she comes sometimes. We know her very well. She is very cultured and very well educated. She is a friend of Abhi” Mrs. Rama forced a smile.
For the next ten minutes or so Mrs. Rama praised so much about Shikha that Kantabai could not muster the courage to ask the inevitable. At the same time Mrs. Rama found it hard to believe her own story.
“Why can’t they mind their own businesses?” raged Mr. Rama and hit the newspaper on the table when Mrs. Rama informed him of the latest gossip doing the rounds.
“They are just too jealous. They cannot think of us having someone occupy our first floor and want some or the other reason to cause trouble” he added.
This had not gone too well with the Ramas too, primarily because – they were not in favor of her staying back but preferred to ignore that and moreover they seemed to like the girl and would not want seeing anything such as this coming her way. At the same time this gossip item was sure to bring down their popularity ratings crashing to the ground. It was not just for the ratings but also for the kids they thought. They did not want her frequent visits to turn into something unpleasant and thought of talking to them. Shikha can come but she will have to leave early. They would assume that they knew nothing about the scores of time she had stayed back at night. It took them almost a week to prepare the flow of speech as to what they would tell Abhi, well actually Shikha also.
She always visited them on Sundays before she went out for dinner with Abhi. They targeted the next Sunday. But she did not turn up. Apparently our dude was also very busy and moreover Shikha was not to be seen with him for the whole of the last week and current one.
“Had they broken off?” asked Mrs. Rama.
“How do I know? And they never told us that they were… what do you call that… ha… Seeing each other? And if they have broken off, I’m sure your dude has to be blamed. I don’t know how she ever came to liking him in the first place.”
Mrs. Rama tried not to ask any further questions.
The door bell rang, it was dinner time. Mrs. Rama addressed the call and was pleasantly surprised to note that it was their Shikha. She looked a bit tired but nevertheless her smile was intact. This meant that they had not broken up –and this was a big relief to Mrs. Rama.
“Hi aunty, hello uncle, I’m so sorry to be troubling you at this time but I was running so busy…” said Shikha as she took up the stool close to the door, Abhi followed in.
“No problem Shikha, we were not doing anything actually…” lied Mr. Rama as he got up from the dining table and came to sit with her.
“Well, I won’t take long; I just came to bid your farewell.”
“Farewell? Why, where are you going?” The Rama faces bore a big question mark.
“No no, don’t worry, I’ll be back. It’s just for a short term.” And immediately there was a relief, from the Ramas.
“But where are you going?”
“I’m leaving for London next Friday… for project work. But its not for long, I’ll be back in another couple of months”
So soon, thought Mr. Rama. “Good! Great actually, congratulations” he said but his voice was emotionless. He was not glad on the prospect of not seeing this lovely lady for another couple of months. Mrs. Rama silently tried to hide the tears that welled up in her eyes. Abhi was unusually silent. He would miss his sweetheart the most.
Shikha hugged them before she left. Mr. Rama tried to hold his guard but Mrs. Rama couldn’t. “May God bless you kid. I will miss you”.
“Even I will miss you aunty”, she would, and she knew it. Finally she smiled and left them. Abhi dropped her home.
Shikha’s absence had left a big void in the Ramas hearts. They realized that they had come to loving the child as if she were their own. They enquired about her whenever they saw Abhi. In fact Abhi also kept to himself after she went. He would place the blame on work but apparently he too seemed to be quite loaded. They had not realized but Shikha’s sudden disappearance had solved their trouble of her being seen with Abhi in his flat. But they missed her so much, that they might not have had any issues with her. Strange way the mind works.
About two and a half months later when Shikha arrived the Ramas were out of town so she could not meet them immediately. And when they saw her they were all ga-ga over her. Mrs. Rama would not leave her for a single minute…
“You have lost so much weight” suggested Mrs. Rama, “…you look so weak”.
Mr. Rama was beaming from ear to ear on seeing her back. Abhi just loved to see his babe being showered with all the love. Even he could not stop but smile at the madness of the Ramas.
“No problem aunty, I have moved in with Abhi now, so you will get to see me more often now… and I will also get to spend more time with you two. I missed you people so much, that I decided then and there that I’d move in with Abhi as soon as I come back home” she said.
“Ya ya sure sure…” Mr. Rama did not know why he said that.
They were super excited with the gifts that she bought for them from London. A nice wrist-watch for Mr. Rama and beautiful show pieces for Mrs. Rama. She would have bought more had there not been the stupid baggage constraint in the airlines.
The honeymoon lasted for a week after which our Kantabai was back with her gossips. This time it was Mrs. Iyer of the third house to the left who seemed to have observed Shikha. Mrs. Rama just ignored her comments and asked her to focus on her work more than wondering about what’s happening where. This had not gone down too well –The Ramas realized this when other people in the colony tried to avoid meeting them or wrap up their business as soon as they could. They seemed to look at the Ramas as some kind of rebels to be defying the laws of society, by allowing something as this to happen in their premises. The residents also said that they could never think of the Ramas stooping so low just for a few thousands of rupees and they were setting very bad examples. Mr. Rama just had one question –Why do people not mind their own businesses? Anyways, their resistance faded and they decided not to renew the rental contract with Abhi for the next 12 months. Though it was painful, but they were helpless.
About a month before the lease expired, Mr. Rama summoned Selvam.
“Selvam, I need your help again, come in.”
“Sure saar, sure… what can I do for you?” asked Selvam though he knew why Mr. Rama had called him. No one misses the gossips!
“Well, aah… actually the lease for the 12 months are over and we need a new tenant”, he had said it!
“But saar” prodded Selvam, “your house is still occupied, no? Is he not extending the lease?”
Now, this was none of Selvam’s business but Mr. Rama was not interested in any confrontation. “Just do as I say. I will handle the rest”
“Sure Saar”. Selvam was all smiles –another earning opportunity.
In less than 2 hours, Selvam was back. Mr. Rama cursed his luck.
“Saar, saar…” asked Selvam.
“Yes Selvam… come in come in…” said Mr. Rama as he opened the door. Behind Selvam was a middle aged couple, probably around 35-40 years of age. At the sight Mr. Rama’s face dropped. This was happening very fast. The new tenant –a family of four –had an instant liking for the house that Selvam showed them. Mr. Rama signed the lease and the deal was done. Less than 3 hours and the fates were sealed. Then came the difficult part. He did not know how to break the news to their young friends whom he had come so close to liking, or maybe loving.
The same evening Shikha came over to hand out the printout (for Mr. Rama’s reference) of the inter-account fund transfer towards the last month’s rent. Mr. Rama again lost another opportunity to inform them of the inevitable. “Tomorrow, for sure” –thought Mr. Rama.
On the other hand Shikha and Abhi were running so busy at office that they completely forgot to talk to the Ramas about extending their lease for another 12 months. At the same time they knew the Ramas so well that “Lease or No-Lease” would hardly make any difference. Shikha also knew a lot of people who stayed on even though the rental agreement of the stipulated 12 months had expired. It was all in good faith and she had great faith in the Ramas. In-fact she had come to accept them as very nice people in this big city of Bangalore. Another reason (and the real reason) why they could not talk to the Ramas was because of the big event that was keeping them off –their wedding. They had so much going on…
About a couple of days later, as Abhi and Shikha were getting into bed they heard a cry from the floor below. A high pitched one, from Mrs. Rama and they instantly knew something was wrong. Abhi scrambled for his mobile as he ran across the shelves. Within a minute they were banging the front door “Aunty, aunty… what happened? Open the door… Aunty? Uncle? Open the door, its us… please open the door”
Mr. Rama was lying on the floor and was sweating profusely when they entered.
Abhi tested Mr. Rama’s pulse and felt light beats… he was dialing Raghav with his other hand.
“Raghav… come here… come here ASAP!! We have an emergency…. Ya… my landlord, guess he’s suffered a stroke… come with you car… we need to take him to the hospital”
“Hello, is this Wockhardt Hospitals? ... We’ve got an emergency case and we’d be arriving shortly at your hospital... My name? ...My name is Shikha… Yes the patient is with us… No we do not need the ambulance… we’re coming there… please be ready… thanks, thank you so much…”
Shikha stayed back with Mrs. Rama as Abhi and a couple of his friends whom Raghav could pick up left for the hospital.
The next 12 hours were extremely critical. Mr. Rama’s pulse was quite feeble and he was losing consciousness. The doctor assured Abhi that he would be able to take care of the patient… the case was not as bad as they had thought. Apparently there was a blocking, but nothing very serious… nevertheless an operation was required. Abhi passed on this information to Shikha who did the same to Mrs. Rama. Luckily Abhi had taken the Cashless mediclaim card from Mrs. Rama before they left for the hospital and that did come in handy during the registration.
Mrs. Rama on the other hand had not moved from her place near the Gods and Goddesses… she was mum and just stared ahead with her hands folded. Shikha kept talking to her to keep up the spirit… and passing any info that Abhi sent. Every time the phone rang she would just pray… least should that be the inevitable. The night passed without any casualty. Both of them took the next day off. Shikha prepared some khichdi, but none of them had any appetite. Shikha took special care of Mrs. Rama; they could not handle another casualty.
The crisis eventually ended in less than a week’s time. Mr. Rama was instructed to be on a strict diet along with regular medical check ups. As soon as Mr. Rama was moved in, Abhi and Shikha heaved a sigh of relief… it was time to get back to their preparation which was neglected for 4-5 days. Just as they got up to leave, Mr. Rama raised his hand to stop them. He wanted to tell them that he had failed them… that they would have to search for a new house to stay and that they had a little over a week.
Shikha smiled, “No uncle, we cannot wait, we’ve got a lot of things to do…”
This kind of puzzled the Ramas –were these two kids aware that they would need to move out in another 10 days?
Shikha just smiled and they left.
The same evening they returned. Mr. Rama was propped up in his bed but he seemed to be occupied.
“Hello uncle” she said, “you look much better”
Mr. Rama was silent… from the time he had regained his senses in the hospital he had just one thought going on in his head. How? How was he going to break the news? And his silence was growing into uneasy now… Shikha and Abhi could also sense it.
“Uncle, what is bothering you so much?” asked Shikha as she sat besides him.
“I could figure that out… even aunty seems to be a bit reserved. Is something wrong?”
Mr. Rama looked at her as he tried to muster the words…
“What is it uncle? Can we do something about it?” asked Abhi. He looked at Shikha and both of them had no clue as to what was going on.
“I’m sorry kids” he said as he looked aside, trying to hide the tears. He had failed them. He had betrayed their trust… he had failed those who had stood by them as their own kids.
“Sorry? Sorry for what…” Shikha was bemused. She looked at Abhi; he was equally confused. Then it hit upon her that he might be feeling sorry for the trouble that he had induced on both of them. Probably that was the reason…
“Oh come on uncle… you don’t need to be sorry… and moreover we would have done the same had it been our parents… so don’t worry…” added Abhi.
Mr. Rama was shaking his head… the kid had missed the whole point.
“Well, I will pardon you if…” half completing the statement, Shikha reached for her bag and pulled out the envelope... and still smiling handed over the card to Mr. Rama… “if you and aunty promise to come to our marriage”.
“Yes uncle, you will have to come… don’t worry about the travel… we will take care of that. Its here in Bangalore, not far from our place…” said Abhi.
These words seem to have taken the blood out of the Ramas’ faces.
“Dude, what’s wrong… you’re back at home and are doing quite well, we’re getting married… venue is Bangalore… and the date is about a couple of weeks from now… so you’ll have enough time to recover… so what’s bothering you now?”
“… and I just forgot, that our lease would be expiring soon, but never-mind we’ll give you more than 3 months notice when we leave”.
“And apparently we’re not moving anywhere now… let thing settle down a bit… we’ve just been through a whirlwind… and I’m so glad that you’re recovering now… we were quite worried about your health” chirped in Shikha.
At this, Mr. and Mrs. Rama looked at each other… no words were necessary.
Selvam couldn’t have made his entry at any better time. “Saar, saar?” he called out as he was in the verandah. Abhi reached out and opened the door to let the broker in.
“Namaskara Saar, how are you?”
“I’m good, what brings you here?”
“Aaa… Nothing justa come to see Mr. Rama. How is he now?”
“Oh, he’s doing great… come in come in”
As he let the broker in, he was thinking what had brought this dude to meet Mr. Rama…. Anyway, he and Shikha made way for the new entrant, it was getting late for them as well.
“Saar, how are you?” asked our broker friend.
“I’m ok Selvam, how are you? What brings you at this time?” asked Mr. Rama, sounding not at all interested in meeting Selvam… Mrs. Rama on the other hand was eager to hear what message brings the sleeky businessman to their house at this hour.
“Actually saar, no problem actually… justa you see...” Selvam tried to say with a pasted smile on his face and this was not making any sense to the Ramas, but one thing was clear that whatever Selvam had to say, he was not too comfortable “…well that tenant that I got no saar …poor fellow, some problem came over him.”
“Oh god, now what?” thought Mr. Rama. He’s got too much going on in his head and was not willing to add any more trouble to the list. Mrs. Rama on the other hand [being a lady] could sense something good for them in this.
“Well saar… actually this new tenant Mr. Prakash… he’s… you see, having some problem and would not be able to take up occupancy at your first floor.”
The Ramas gave a cry of relief… as if a heavy stone has been lifted from their hearts… but Selvam read that as a disappointment or anger… whatever.
“Saar, I know you would not like it so I’ve told Mr. Prakash that he will not get his advance back and moreover I’ve already got two more….” And he could not finish what he had wanted to say… The Ramas were smiling ear to ear… Mr. Rama -had he been young- would have danced and leapt with joy. Selvam on the other hand could not comprehend the situation at all.
“Selvam, my dear friend, this is the best piece of news you’ve ever brought me” and looking towards his wife he said, “Krishna, can you hand over the check to Selvam?”
“Saar, are you not going to keep the advance money with you?” asked Selvam as his face dropped with disappointment. His share of the money was also being returned. “No Selvam, if he’s in trouble lets not add to that, please hand over the check to him and knock off my house from your list… I’m not searching for any tenant now.”
“But saar…, I have two ready customer for you… you don’t worry saar.” Selvam could not believe that not only was he losing out on the commission from the previous party but also there seem to be no possibility of earnings from the brokerage business for any new tenants. This was catastrophic!
“Leave it Selvam, take the check and return it to Mr. Prakash” and with that Mr. Rama folded his arms behind his head and took a long breathe of relief... the big smile was still etched on his face.
Mrs. Rama thanked her deities and promised them with more pujas. She had not felt as relieved from a long time.
Selvam couldn’t believe that he was in the company of a crazy old couple.