A short story that explores the country’s love, need and reliance on real estate…

“Jay, what are you doing beta? Hurry up! Get ready! In four hours we have to be at the marriage pandal!”, said Jay’s father Omprakash enthusiastically. It had been three years since they were finding the perfect bride for his only son Jay and it was finally the day when they were going to get him married. One might ask, why did it take so long for them to find a bride for Jay? Because they thought their son was perfect, made in heaven and deserved the best.

“Dad, I am not like didi who takes hours to get ready. Why don’t you just relax?” Jay snapped. ‘Didi’ was Jay’s elder sister Rishika, who had been married one year ago. Rishika was never her parents’ favourite. And this was only because she was born a girl. A sweet young woman, obedient and ambitious, Rishika was ‘burden’ they had to let go of.

An hour later, as Jay and his father sat together in the living room, alone, sipping tea, Jay who was otherwise very blunt, started talking softly. He said, “Dad, what are you going to give me for my wedding gift?”

“Son, you know that I have only two things. This house and some savings that I have earned throughout my life…”

“I am not interested in this old, stupid piece of land in the middle of nowhere! So don’t even try to offer it to me as a gift!”, Jay said resuming his usual rude tone.

“Look Jay, I have to give something to your sister also. Last year, I had not got my pension savings when she got married. Her wedding gift is pending…and I was going to give her some money, so…”

“Some money? What about me? Give his this stupid piece of land. I want money from your life savings! And don’t you try to give me 1-2lakh. I want it all. After all, after my marriage, you are going to stay with me and my wife…so you won’t need any money…” said the spoilt brat.

Silently watching her brother make a fool of himself, Rishika hated how he was talking to their father.

“This is our ancestral land…how can you call it stupid? It is where we have so many memories…if I give it to Rishika, our family name will not go on on this land…” said Omprakash to his son.

“Don’t argue with me dad. If you want me to get married today, I want you to write me a cheque with that lakhs you have been hiding in your bank account. Otherwise, I will not leave the house. Our family’s name will be stained forever,” Jay screamed and got up.

Omprakash looked on. This was the first time he realised how wrong he had gone with the upbringing of his son. His daughter Rishika, quickly came and sat down next to him, giving him a glass of water.

“Dad, give him what he wants. I don’t want anything…you keep this house in your name. But please don’t take stress, you are a heart patient…”

Omprakash knew he had been pampering the wrong child. Jay had grown up to be a disrespectful, selfish man who did not care about anyone else. But Rishika…she was his strongest support.

After thinking for some time, Omprakash signed a cheque and gave his life savings to his son. He didn’t want that young bride stranded at the mandap, ruining her life, just because his son had thrown a tantrum.

That day Jay got married. And that night, Omprakash gifted his ancestral house to his daughter. For a few weeks, everything was fine. Everyone was happy. Then one day, Jay brought home a fancy new car. He boasted of finding a new job in the city. Omprakash knew whose money that car had come from. In just a few days, Omprakash, his wife, Jay and his wife had moved to the city. In the next few months, Omprakash was broke. He had spent all his father’s savings, refused to take care of his parents anymore and threw out of the house. The entire family was on the footpath – once affluent, now paupers.

When Rishika, who lived in a different city heard of this, she called her father. They were speaking after months. All she told him was to come back home, leaving the city. After some hesitation, Omprakash agreed.

The next day when the whole family reached their ancestral house, they were surprised to see how different it looked. Rishika, who was always ambitious, had turned into her first venture. It was now a homestay that offered city mongers and foreigners a piece of local life. With their family name right on top on the board, their home looked right out of a fairy tale.

Outside the house, in the adjacent piece of land, Rishika had started organic farming. This was another source of income for her.

While she was taking baby steps, her venture, named after her father, was doing very well. On seeing all of this, Omprakash broke down.

“Sorry beta, I am sorry…” is all he could say as he wept.

“Dad, don’t be sorry. I was very young when I heard you and grandpa talk to Jay about the importance of owning land. About how the land can help one in the toughest of times. That teaching had stayed with me…and I get my business sense from grandpa, you know,” Rishika said, trying to lighten up the situation and added, “Your room is just as it is. I have not touched anything there. This place is yours and I want us to run it together as a family…”

Omprakash was proud of his daughter. It took a few years for Jay to realise his mistake and apologise…but by then Rishika had grown her business multifold, bought more land so that someday, her generation to come could use it during tough times and remember her.

Land or real estate as we call it is an asset. When you invest in real estate, it is like a seed that you sow for life; the fruits of which can be reaped not just by you but the generations to come.

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