Love in the Time of Old Age

Our landlord is old. When I say old, he has seen active service in the Second World War (or so we like to think) and has accumulated enough money to make us wonder, “How does this man manage to have 10 houses and 5 cars in the middle of Brussels?”

I postulated a hypothesis, “He was a colonial power.”

N said, “You mean in the Belgian Congo.”

“No, no. I mean he was a small country. Razed a few colonies down, imported stuff. Et voila, instant riches in Europe.”

Along with his old age, he exhibits all the crochetiness of a rough sweater made by a 50 year old North Indian grand mother for her potha for Diwali. When we had moved in, he’d laid down the law:

“Thou shalt not smoke, drink, make noise, play loud music…”

The law periodically gets refreshed,

“You shall shut the windows,” (this delivered to me at 1:30 AM one night when I was tucked in bed. Let me tell you I’d have killed him.

“Please, please, I beg you… park your cars like this and this here and here.”

and the clincher,

“Please close your door like this.” (with demonstration.)

I don’t take too well to the man, as you can see. N sympathises, I can’t care less.

Anyway, last night I came back from work early and took my car into the garage. There was only one place left and a bunch of new cars parked all over.

I mused that N would have trouble parking when she came along, but shrugged since tonight he couldn’t blame us and left.

At the entrance of the garage, I found a mashed red rose- my car had gone over it. I stamped it again just ‘cos I could and went upstairs.

Two hours later, N clattered upstairs in a fine fury. “There’s no place for me to park my car!”

I looked up from making chicken and potatoes (“Taste this…”) and said “There was one spot between the iron pillar and the Range Rover.”

“NO! There was a red Audi parked there.”

“When I came in it was parked between the OTHER pillar and the Toyota. Whose car is that anyway?” (I told you… too many cars)

“I don’t care. I am telling the old man that I have parked the car behind the Range Rover. If he wants to take his car out, he can’t.”

I sniggered evilly, while N clomped upstairs.

Two minutes later, I heard the loud sounds of an argument. I was content.

N came down in some time.

“So, what happened?”

“Uhm, there were roses all over the stairs.”

“WHAT?”

“Yeaaah. I told him that I parked my car behind his.”

“Okay. What did he say?”

“The conversation was behind a closed door. He said he couldn’t come out.”

This was looking decidedly ominous.

N moved in closer and whispered, “I think he was having… ”

“Don’t say it. Let’s repark your car NOW.”

We ran down (while noticing that there were rose petals strewn over all 3 flights of stairs) and reparked her car behind ANOTHER new car- a battered station wagon of unknown provenance.

“How has this man gone through 2 wives and still getting action?”

“I think it’s because he is rich.”

We were comfortably discussing the mystery over Maggi, chicken and potatoes, when a knock sounded.

The man was outside looking distinctly dishevelled.

“Uhm, could you repark the car? My lady friend wants to leave.”

N and I looked at each other and collectively shuddered at the graphic image. We also started discussing the man in the one language neither of us really uses with each other. Hindi.

The Hindi phase lasted the whole evening.

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