The Well

I live in an apartment in Chennai, a city which is dependent on rains for recharging its water resources. Monsoon failures result in acute water scarcity and severe drought. A couple of years ago, Chennai experienced the rainfall of the century, followed next year by a cyclonic storm with very high wind speeds that uprooted many trees in the city. The reservoirs overflowed. On both the occasions, In some localities, people had to be evacuated by boats; many lost their lives too. Instinctively, all the citizens joined hands in providing support and relief for those who were stranded or were in distress. In many apartments, the ground floor was flooded. Household articles, including vehicles were washed away. The fury of the storm treated the rich and the poor alike.

Even as people were coming out of this traumatic experience, the scorching summer followed. This resulted in the reservoirs drying up, leading to a drought and severe water scarcity. Water is now dearer than gold.

It was in such a situation that I struck gold, not in my backyard but in my bedroom. To put your curiosity to rest, let me narrate further.

At some point in our lives each of us cherish the hope of owning a house. Not to be left behind in this, my wife and I started discussing on whether to go in for an independent house with a well and a nice garden or opt for an apartment. Obviously, the location too was a key factor in our discussion.

When we started making enquiries, we realized that owning an independent house could be just a dream. The price was just nowhere within our reach. We consoled ourselves with the fact that maintaining an independent house would be time consuming and expensive, in addition, the security issues had to be considered... In an apartment the maintenance expenses are shared by the occupants, additionally the neighbors could prove useful in terms of company and the security factor also would be taken care of.

In right earnest we started to look out for an apartment in our locality itself that would meet our budget. We were able to locate a local builder who was quite prominent in our neighborhood. He had constructed several apartments in the locality. On checking out with people who had purchased from the builder, we understood that his pricing was competitive without compromising on the quality. All were his satisfied customers.

We met the builder who showed us a few apartments that were readily available. We were able to locate a good ground floor apartment that suited our family requirements. The price was also within our budget. I had already arranged a housing loan from a reputed bank. Over the years I had also built up a good saving which I could draw to meet the preliminary margin money requirements of the bank.

I paid an advance of one lakh rupees and signed an agreement for the purchase of the property. I assured the buyer that I would complete the full payment and registration formalities in three months’ time.

We spoke to our local community priest to provide us an auspicious date for the registration of the property. After referring to the almanac he provided us with a few auspicious dates. After discussion we selected an auspicious date.

We duly completed the registration formalities with the builder. We performed the grihapravesh, the housewarming rituals. We invited all our relatives and guests for the function and proudly showed them our house. Finally, we happily moved into our own house.

The house was easily accessible from any part of the city and convenient in all respects. In the initial months we had a good supply of water, and we settled down quickly in our new home.

With the onset of the summer the water supply got regulated and slowly tapered off. So much so, when we opened the tap instead of water flowing out we could hear the sweet music coming out of the tap in the form of air gushing out.

We now had to wait for the lorries to supply water to our area. We patiently stood in a serpentine queue to collect our quota of water supply for the day. The buckets for the water were also kept in a neat line by each resident.

One evening while waiting in the queue for my turn, my eyes fell on the buckets lined up for the water. My mind rolled back to my childhood days in my village where I grew up. For a moment I wished I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a standstill.

We had a small river flowing through our village which never went dry. We carried earthen pots to the river to bring water for household requirements. I was reminded of how we used to keep the pots on the shore, to take a dip in the river and came back really refreshed. Some of us, the brave hearted, would climb a ledge and jump into the river for a swim. The current in the river was not very strong while the water was crystal clear. We could see the fish swim in the river and some of us would even have fun trying to catch them. But they always gave us the slip since they were too fast for us. In another corner of the river some of the residents washed their clothes. Some cattle would also come to the river after grazing to have a fill of water.

I found someone tapping my shoulder gently. The queue had moved forward, and I had not noticed it until my neighbor’s tap on my shoulder brought me back to reality .

As the days passed, the situation became acute, and the supply became erratic. At times we used to keep awake past midnight to get the water supply.

After collecting the water late that night, I did the usual mopping of the floor, then bolted the door and went off to my bedroom to catch up on my sleep. I was suddenly awakened by a sudden rattling noise and my bed began to oscillate. Even before I realized I was pulled into an abyss with a free fall. This was soon halted by a splash of water all over me. It was too dark to see where I was. I was so scared that I started to yell at the top of my voice.

Soon I heard voices above me that initially seemed like a whisper but in a few minutes became audible. My good neighbors must have heard me yell and had come to know of my plight. Soon, I heard anxious voices discussing on how to rescue me. Suddenly a thin bean of light was focused on me. I soon realized I had fallen into a pool of water. The water was fresh and cool.

I heard voices calling out to me. I looked up to see a long stretch of sari neatly rolled to form a rope, being sent down for me to hold on to, so that I could be taken out of the pool. I clung on to it in despair for dear life and found myself being hauled out. There was a sigh of relief all around when I was on safe ground. My family members hugged me although I was drenched completely on account of the holy dip in the water. After this incident, none of us could sleep a wink and we were worried beyond words at the happening. My family members told me that initially they were bewildered at the turn of events and wild cries escaped their lips. Hearing their cries some of our neighbors had rushed immediately to our house to give a helping hand.

In the morning I called the builder to lodge a complaint for the poor quality of construction. He gave me a patient ear and started to speak. He told me that originally there had been a well when he had purchased the property for the construction. While designing the apartments, he could not retain the well because it was not located at any corner of the plot. Hence, he had closed it when the construction of the apartment had begun. The soil being loose, it may have given way.

I now started counting my blessings. What a miracle! I was safe and so were the other articles in the bedroom.

Needless to say, that I now have an apartment with copious supply of potable water from a well inside my house.

A well in an independent house is common. But owning an apartment with a well in the bedroom, is unbelievable, but true!


More by :  Sundar Rajan

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