He looked up with satisfaction, the smile gradually spreading across the face, lighting it, thickening his lips, but his eyes were moist. Yes, it was the house alright. The house that was built in the ‘disputed’ land, the house that galvanized his thoughts, prompted him into action, the house that smeared his eyes, with tears of toil.
For long his wife had told him: “We just need a house. When the child grows up and we are not there, he will have something, some property some hope . . .”
They came in cars, the goons. This is our land they shouted. They pointed at him, a strongly built man twirling his moustache. “He wants it” they said in the glee. “He is our supremo, the local MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) here . . . do you know?”
He did not. He shivered. How could he know? He worked in a small office, a small man with Big Dreams. He wanted to build a house, for himself his wife and the eight year old son.
Soon the land became ‘disputed’. Some people put a fence. Trees grew carelessly. Once in a while the goons came to visit, in twos and threes. Satisfied they went away. Step by step, layer by layer the house was constructed and built. He simply willed it and after fifteen long years it sprouted, spiralled into skies, looking up at his dreams.
By that time, the MLA had died out of sheer grief. He had lost his seat . . . The goons kept on coming but they could not contain nor combat the inexorable power of the House, which built itself, slowly, inexorably. Now it stood, in front of himself and his family erect, upright, and impregnable. He had built it he said gleefully. But he knew; it was not he.
The dismantling process started. At night they would come, it took three nights to dismantle it, till it lay in ruins, a crumbling heap, and a mangled sorry figure. His son and wife wept. Tearfully he looked at the ruinous sight; it was as if an ancient civilization had fallen. There were riots in the town, one community pitted against another. In between there were bandhs, strikes, hartals and curfews. The District Administration could do nothing but clamp curfews – murder, loot and arson.
He looked out of his window one morning. He had just woken up from sleep. It was early and the skies looked grey, the sun peeked over his shoulders and a voice said: “This house will kill you, take it away from your dreams and wipe the tears”.
The goons came back one night. A house crumbled.