I live in a rented apartment in Jammu and by all means it is a cosy and comfortable place to live in. But since it is rented it is never mine and every now and then there are squabbles between me and my landlord who owns the place and enjoys every bit of it.
While outside Jammu and Kashmir almost half the world lives in rented apartments and houses, we Kashmiris have a particular thing about owning a home and we spend almost half of our lives working in toil to build just that, a house of our own. I have seemingly grown over it and have started exacting an attitude regarding homes, but nevertheless I dream that someday I will have a house of my own and that is another particular trait we Kashmiris are particularly possessive about. Anyway, this is about my rented apartment and it never gets easy on my nerves.
It was practically a cold night a week ago and I had slipped under almost half a dozen blankets. In the dead of the night I woke up, jittery, to the sound of water gushing out and falling on concrete. My first guess was that the landlord had not switched off the motor which feeds the overhead tank that sits on the terrace, exactly above my apartment and the noise was water coming out of the overflow pipe and falling on the concrete landing below.
I almost shrugged it off, as there was nothing I could do about it, but then my sixth sense told me that it had something to do very much with me. I climbed out of bed and while rubbing my eyes open I clicked on the light switch and was met with the disastrous fact that there was no electricity. I somehow guided myself to the bedroom door and opened it.
As soon as I was out of the room and in the lobby I could make out that the noise was coming out of the kitchen. I located a candle on my inane, unsolicited mental GPS and lighted it – the candle, not the GPS. With the candle in my hand I approached the kitchen almost sure that some supernatural power had broken all “hell” loose in there. I was afraid that I might even encounter a ghastly being or perhaps even an alien as the volume of water hitting the floor was enormous – no human effort could have let it loose.
When I reached the kitchen I found out that the plumbing of the instant geyser which is mounted over the kitchen sink was practically out of bounds and it was this spot which was hurtling out huge volumes of water all across the kitchen. I thought I should wake up my wife then forgot about it as she would only have screamed in my ear and I would have gone momentarily deaf – that is how our women take on any kind of homemade disaster.
My kid would also be of no help and I did not want to wake up my father, who in fact is very good at handling homemade disasters. It was all on me now. I thought about calling up the landlord but then since there was no electricity and it was quite cold that night, I wasted the idea as he would have picked on me and the matter would have turned into the direction of a major fight and during that period of time the whole house would have been flooded.
I tried fiddling with the plumbing, and a lock that had come open jumped like a terrified frog in my face and now I was up against a fire hose. The cold water hit me right in the face like a “bullet” and knocked off my spectacles. I tried holding the major leak with my bare hands and that ways I earned myself a decent bath in the dead of the night. I was dripping wet and confused. I knew it was time for my inherited genius to come to force. I started looking for a weapon to fight the menace that had hit me in the face and rendered me almost numb.
And all this with no electricity and a candle in my hand which would go off because of the gushing water. I spotted a traditional Kashmiri wooden curd churner out of the blue all of a sudden. I wrapped the tip of it with a small towel and thrust it into the opening which was the source of the gushing water and banged it shut. I was not sure that I had done the appropriate thing and doubted that the churner would come off because of the immense pressure in the spot. So while I was dripping wet I had to wait there for one whole hour anticipating the ouster. Nothing happened and I changed into a fresh pair of trousers and shirt and slipped right back into bed. I was shivering almost the whole night.
I woke up in the morning, called the plumber and got the leak fixed. And all through that day I was recollecting the incident that occurred the previous night. I had learnt my lesson – never push over stuff unto others that might be actually sitting on your own head and about to drown you while you were dreaming sweet.