Having a piece of land in one’s name lying vacant, more often than not, is a source of trouble and mischief. The least of these may be the one that converts the plot into a garbage dump by one and all and the worst may be illegal encroachment. A decade ago my small plot at an upcoming locality in my home town became the source of a complex plot (pun unintended) of duplicity and fraud. It all started this way.
When some disturbing news regarding my plot reached us, the husband rushed to make enquiries. He happened to bump into an old acquaintance, who went on to declare, in a slightly allegorical fashion, that he had “eaten the salt” of my pater and vowed to protect my land from antisocials. To prove his clout the acquaintance took along my better half to certain places where the former was treated with utmost respect. Satisfied that he had handed over the matter into trusted hands the spouse returned to home turf. His narration of the intriguing story stimulated my grey cells. The only recollection I had of the acquaintance was of a seedy-looking adolescent with a perennially running nose who used to accompany his father to partake of the festivities regularly at my lavish maternal home. How this transformation, sleazy to reputable, took place puzzled me no end.
A few days later one early morning saw the appearance of the very person at our doorstep. His attitude indicated that he was honouring us by his visit, regardless of our morning hustle-bustle. Soon we were introduced to the purpose of his visit as he went on a rewind and playback mode of his life. He confided that he had borrowed some money for his daughter’s education and now the lender was demanding it for his own daughter’s marriage. To our utter shock tears started rolling down his cheeks in a dramatic manner and we rushed to comfort him. Recovering quickly, in a matter of fact manner he asked us to “lend” him this amount, `20,000 in all. He promised to repay it within three months, albeit without interest. I replied that we were not in the moneylending business and interest did not interest us. The husband, always careful about where the penny goes, gave me a nod to give the amount and hurriedly left for his office. As I got ready a cheque, the “reputable person” declared that he had no bank account and he dealt always in cash. As if in a trance I allowed him to follow me to the nearest ATM. I handed over my hard-earned money to him, little knowing that I was seeing it for the last time. He assured me that he would take care of our land problem and vanished.
Soon his mobile number became unreachable. Two years rolled by. After considerable efforts we found his landline number. But more nasty surprise was in store. His wife, who had once been a maid at our home, blasted me for daring to ask back my money.
We later came to know that he had stage managed the scenes to impress my gullible better half. “Seedy” to rowdy seemed a likely transformation. We had been naïve enough to be conned by a known person. Our land problem remained our own to be solved through other means, which in itself is another story!