My friend who stays abroad has kept her flat keys with me so that her maidservant can clean her house occasionally.
The maidservant came yesterday to pick up the bunch of keys after a very long time.I had not seen her since some weeks.So ,I inquired," Long time-no see.What happened? Were you not keeping well ?"Smriti ( the name of the maidservant ) hesitated before she said,"I am not keeping well..."I dug further but her reply was not coming -all halting with no clarity & then she broke down.
I was shocked,"What is the matter ?" I asked her.She said,"My house is gone.I had paid three lakhs for the house in Navi Mumbai after selling my jhopdi here.A month back,one night,our homes were all demolished by the Muncipality as they were all illegal.There were atleast 500 families like mine.We spent many nights in the open.Everything is over now.My only asset - my new house- is gone."I was so stunned, that I could barely react.I asked her,"How is your daughter ? She completed her graduation ?"Smriti said,"She has one more year."Smriti left after that.
I kept thinking about her - I remember my friend had urged Smriti to do a Sri Satyanarayan puja in her new home.Smriti had agreed & my friend who was on a visit here at that time, had helped Smriti with all the shopping for the ceremony with funds as well.So in the ultimate analysis,even God had not helped Smriti in keeping her home.I felt depressed.The builders cheat all -without any discrimination -but what will they ever get by swindling the poor? The same lobby is negotiating with all the powers for sops to perk up the real estate as it is down (?) but is it down ? I have serious doubts-the builders have realised that profit margins are stagnant now & since they are addicted to profits,they are seeking favours by force of habit.Otherwise,they will resort to cheating even the poorest of the poor & defraud them as well.That is what they did in Smriti's case & will do in other cases as well.
Now,Smriti has only her daughter for support & the meagre salary that she earns.Smriti is staying in a slum now, where she is paying a steep rent -in effect,she has hardly anything left after her rent.How many Smritis,our builders have created is a wild guess . If Smriti & her likes take to crime to make ends meet,I would excuse them for their staying from the straight path.This is because crimes are committed by them for sheer survival unlike the ones perpetrated by the builders,politicians,et al for indulging in a life of luxury.