Sometimes people take themselves a little too seriously. My friend had a landlord who claimed to be a `Very Important Person’. He never missed an opportunity to flash this like a badge of honour. It was hilarious and amusing, until it came back to ruin things for my friend. Rather badly too.
It all happened before the new tenancy law – the Model Tenancy Act – was drafted this year. If it’s passed, it will mean that tenants can, among other things, make sure that they can’t be thrown out ‘arbitrarily’ on the landlord’s whims. As my friend found to his dismay, being a tenant, and a very young one at that, leaves you chewing the wrong end of the power stick.
Today, though, the reality remains – your landlord is always a VIP inside his precious property, irrespective of what he is outside.
I was staying at my friend’s place one night to watch the football finals of the UEFA Champion’s League. We’d ordered a few beers and were starting a good time. After the game was done we drank some more, discussed the game, laughed a lot and called it a night. They were a lot of us in the house that night so four of us crashed in one room on an assortment of beds and mattresses.
The next morning, I woke up to a huge commotion in the living room. Before I knew it, the door to our bedroom burst open and in entered this short, fair man with abnormally thick eyebrows. He scowled, looked closely at all of us, snapped his fingers and barked, “EVERYONE GET UP AND GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! NOW!”
All four friends just blinked and looked at each other confused. He yelled again, and all I could think was, why is this man so loud on a Sunday morning!?
He called us out of the room and made us line up in the living room like a drill sergeant waking up his troops at an ungodly hour.
“YOU THINK MY HOUSE IS A LODGE OR WHAT?” he barked, his spit dancing in the air. He was The Landlord.
He wore abnormally tight pants and an even more abnormally tight t-shirt. He was frowning so hard, his bushy eyebrows had merged into one (this was before the unibrow became fashionable). With all the commotion, the residents of the other rooms also walked out dazed and confused. A total of 10-12 of us amassed in the living room.
“HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE LIVING IN THIS HOUSE? GUYS, I’M A POLITICAL FIGURE! I CAN JUST CALL MY BODYGUARD AND BEAT YOU UP!”
With the height of an average 12-year-old, he would need a lot of help if it came to a fight! But who knew about those bodyguards. We tried to reason with the unreasonable man-child-angry-leprechaun-person as much as we could.
But our pleas fell on deaf ears. Looking at the bottles of alcohol in the room, he yelled, “YOU THINK THIS IS A PLACE FOR A RAVE? I’M A POLITICAL FIGURE! I CAN’T HAVE DRUGS BEING DONE IN MY HOUSE!”
We’re still trying to figure out what drugs he was referring to. If it was the alcohol then yeah, okay. We all have our poisons.
The irony of it all was that he himself looked like a coked-up Colin Farrell from Horrible Bosses. In fact, just a few weeks ago this bastard had barged into the apartment with a strange woman, hijacked one of his tenants’ rooms and indulged in carnal acts.
“THERE WAS A GIRL IN THAT ROOM, NO? CALL HER OUT RIGHT NOW!”
Are his vocal chords physically incapable of speaking at a lower volume? I wondered.
Our female friend walked out of the room too, rubbing her eyes sleepily. The landlord looked at her and said politely, “Ma’am don’t you know better than to stay alone with so many boys? If something went wrong, do you know what kind of mess I could land up in?” We were struck dumb at this pathetic plea. Some of us couldn’t believe that HE COULD SPEAK IN A NORMAL VOLUME that was lower than that of a two-stroke Bajaj Chetak jamming on kerosene.
Suddenly he got distracted by a phone call, maybe from a bodyguard. We took this opportunity to tell our female friend to leave just as he was returning.
“NOW YOU WAIT AND SEE WHAT I DO TO YOU! MY BODYGUARD WILL STRIP YOU AND BEAT YOU BLACK AND BLUE!”
I felt like a POW in a Vietnamese prison camp run by the Soviets. Maybe I’d just seen too much Rambo growing up.
Another distracting phone call, and a bunch of us also scattered and quietly sneaked away from the house. I was still dazed with all the crazy shouting ringing in my ears. As I left I noticed there was no bodyguard anywhere to be seen. Later, we found out that he’d just been made the vice president of some local community club! Bloody hell!
I’m not sure what happened after I left, but my friends got kicked out two weeks later, when he stormed in on them again. They were out on the streets on a rainy day with their luggage and his parting words to them were: “Hey, don’t take it personally, okay?”
This pathetic state of affairs is partly due to our culture of submissiveness, partly because there’s no rule of law. Come on – if the law had been on our side, my friends could have held on to the flat despite the idiot landlord’s crazy mood swings. They could have even paid a lower security deposit and claimed lesser rent if there had been a ‘deterioration in services provided’. And then they could have been the ones to tell him, “Don’t take it personally, okay?”
This landlord pretended to be mightier than us when he just some small-time creep. He just wanted the chance to yell at us for supposed vices – vices that paled in comparison to his own, don’t you think? Was his concern for the girl in our house to mask the shady stuff he was doing with other women? Maybe the yelling was his Napoleonic complex kicking in. Maybe it was a cathartic way of doing penance for his less-than-savoury shenanigans. Maybe it was so he could tell himself he was a better person than us.
Or maybe – and most likely – he was just a dick. A dick of a landlord.
By Wellington D’Souza
Illustration By: Simeen Oshidar