I have an uncle who has lived in a rented house since the time he got married. He started out on rent because his father’s house was too small to hold one more person, even a petite woman like my aunt. ‘Just a year on rent and then we will buy our own house, however small’ was what the two thought. He was a bright young man and he swiftly prospered in his career.
Two years later, the couple began looking out for a home. They were going to have a baby and they wanted the baby to be born in their own house. Unfortunately, the boom in property prices was much sharper than the growth in his own income. They could only afford a matchbox of a house and that too in a not very nice neighbourhood. ‘Our child won’t even have room to crawl’ my aunt sniffled. My uncle was besotted with his wife and so against his better judgement, he gave in. They moved to a more spacious rented house, the baby was born and everybody was happy.
The baby was now a bonny three-year-old boy and he had a teeny sister all of ten months. My uncle had been promoted and he was determined to take the plunge this time around and buy his very own house. Then his father died and his mother and unwed sister came to stay with them. His father’s house was grabbed by his unscrupulous uncle and his mother had come to him, penniless. He sighed and rented an even bigger house to accommodate his growing family. Time passed, his mother died, his sister got married and his children grew up. All in a rented house. Oh, he was doing well in his job and his wife also gave tuitions to kids at the house. But they had got used to living in style, to eating in a restaurant whenever it took their fancy, to seeing their children attending fancy, exclusive schools… They couldn’t give it all up for a house. And that too a much smaller house than what they had got used to.
Two years back my Uncle died of cancer. He could have been saved but the family didn’t have the money for the hospital bills. They didn’t even have a house which they could sell or where they could live. The family now stays in a humble rented house in a remote neighbourhood. The son is a bright young man with big plans. ‘Wait just a year or two, Mother and then we will buy our very own house’ the son assures his mother earnestly. His mother looks at him, sighs and two fat tears slowly streak down her cheeks.