Ode to a landlord

Our first landlord in Chennai passed away three days back. His sugar levels shot to unimaginable levels (1200) and he spent two weeks in hospital in a semi-conscious state before he succumbed to death.
I write this obit because of the unexpectedness of death - it is not easy adjusting to the fact that someone you saw often on your daily morning walks (he was a late walker like me) and smiled at you or made small talk at times has departed suddenly and will not be seen any more. And it bothers you a little that he was cut up with us in the past month because our part-time maid had quit her job at his place (that was something between them, but his anger towards her spilled on to us partly because it was his wife who had recommended her to us).
The ground floor of the independent house they rented out was my find in 2000. Though it had been somewhat above our budget then, I fell for it because it gave me a feel of Kerala - a well, a nanakallu (a raised stone platform to wash clothes), arakallu (grinding stone) and plants (curry leaf plant, coconut trees...) around. They gave us some basic furnishing but a proper lease agreement. The house was too large for the two of us, and we hardly went into the second bedroom.
They did seem frugal about sharing water but we had an almost peaceful, year-long stay - save for the trouble of having to catch water on the road from corporation tankers, a miscarriage, the lack of safety that an independent house means etc - especially as the landlord was transferred to another district during that period. We visited them on our one-day trip to Velankanni and he accompanied us to the famous Catholic church there.
They were indeed a moody couple, but they did treat us with a lot of parental affection during our past 10 years (four years in another rented accommodation nearby before we moved into our own place) in the residential colony. And at the funeral, his wife introduced us as their former tenants who had been like their own children to them - with one daughter settled in Chicago and another going through a hellish marriage (married around the same time as us) before she found bliss in a second, inter-religious marriage, I am glad if we had been able to provide them comfort and love in all these years.
He had a wonderful smile that obliterated his uneven long teeth. May his soul rest in peace.
p.s. As usual, I have something to regret - that we did not visit him in hospital. My previous such regret had been that I had not returned my paternal uncle's last missed call to me before his death.


Anonymous said…
Sad note; well written - Kochumon

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