I am moving house. Last monsoon I vowed that I will never live in the house I am currently residing for another year, read: another monsoon. I wanted to spare my wife and son the indignities of a monsoon in Artist Village. True the area is the best I can ever get in the city of Bombay; it has more than hundred acres of green forests, a dam, and a walking trail. I wake up every morning to bird sounds and on my daily morning walk listen to the birds relating their agonies and angst of the previous day at the walking trail. However, the omissions and commission of the house I live in are many, and should, I think, be a case study in bureaucratic bungling. Like everything built in India, especially a construction done with government intervention, the life span of the structure is over. It has lasted me a reasonable twenty years and now that its life is over I have to think of doing some drastic repairs or break it down completely.
Problem is that though bad, I am very attached to this house to which I moved twenty years ago. My son grew up here and I have fond memories of him as a small child running around in the small courtyard. The thought of destroying so many memories is what is disturbing. I have also accumulated a bewildering range of furniture, computers, computer accessories (which includes computer books), and other paraphernalia that comes with having a computer, and believe me, this can be a variegated jungle of wires and cables. I know I have to move out but I can’t bring myself to do it, call it attachment, nostalgia, or, whatever.
The government housing corporation – CIDCO, from whom I purchased this house –constructed it in such hurry that it didn’t have time for niceties like matching door bolts and latches. The doors don’t close properly, the space is narrow and cramped, and because of the bad cement used there’s mold on the walls every monsoon. The flooring is coming out in powdery bits, the walls are peeling paint, and the doors don’t close properly. All this I have tried temporarily to remedy by repairing, putting false ceilings and doing all I can to keep life possible in this case of bureaucratic bungling. But I am at the end of the tether and have decided to break everything down and rebuild it as most of my neighbors are doing. The plot belongs to me and I will have the luxury of more space.
A lot of my money has been spent on making this house comfortable for the three of us. But now it will all go waste. But which building constructed with government funds has had a life of more than twenty years? Some of them in my locality are disintegrating. Now I have decided to move to a flat nearby till the rebuilding of my house can be completed. Meanwhile the old house, with Mangalore tiles and all is going to be demolished and a proper structure, with reinforced concrete, and mice-proof doors are going to be installed, with a loan from a government-owned bank.
Now, this piece is about how a house that is in its death throe can irritate. I have transferred half my belongings to the new flat and the house is full of cardboard boxes, and dismantled computers, and knick knacks. The last mentioned also include a large collection of books some of which I will have to throw out, which makes me go mushy and sentimental. I have put them on the floor and find that there isn’t space to navigate in the little house. At night there is an unwanted guest in the form of a little mouse that comes and moves in between the cartons and plays havoc with my wife’s sleep, she being a light sleeper. As for me I sleep like a dead man, even an earthquake couldn’t wake me once.
Having seen “Mouse Story” the movie about how a mouse can destroy a big mansion, I have no illusions about the destructive power of this smallish furry rodent. The problem is: it is so industrious in its foray for food that it will take every risk available. I have tried waiting with a broom handle to swat it down, but its movements are so furtive that I just can’t foresee where it will go next.
I have tried poisoning it and it seems it went and died inside my neighbor’s water tank and he became quite upset at the maggots falling from the bathroom ceiling. Soon it (the dead one) was replaced by another, furry creature, its offspring, I guess. So poisoning is out this time. Then I try mousetraps, and that too doesn’t work. The mouse soon got wise to my machinations and would just nibble at the chapatti without going in to eat. Intelligent creature this is.
Then I try catching it sneaking in and by thumping my legs on the floor and making all sorts of noise to only see it scurrying past me under the bed and disappearing, I don’t know where. I would take the torch and would bend low under the bed, and, broom-flying wizards! it’s disappeared. Suddenly it would materialize with its high pitched, super-sonic shriek and destroy my peace of my mind when I am watching a particularly engrossing movie on television. Gone would be the momentary enjoyment and I would start to fret about the mouse’s next move.
Now it’s having the worst case of diarrhea and there’s rat dropping all over the floor, making me clean up after it the whole morning. I am so fed up with this mouse’s antics that I have decided to write this blogpost and move out and go and live in the rented flat next Saturday. The loan has been approved by the bank and the architect is drawing the design of the house, and the sooner I am out of here the better.
My new house is going to be mouse-proof and I am personally going to ensure that there aren’t any cartons or big wooden beds around where my mouse friend can hide from my searching gaze and my broom handle.