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My Lord O’ Landlord: Just one pair of shoes, sir!

It had been a fortunate trend for Raju’s family that their relations with the landlords had always been friendly and healthy. As Raju’s father, the head of the family, had a transferable job, they had to move from village to village every two to three years, and as always, his father searched for an ideal rental house for his family and that the owner was also willing. to your liking Most of their selections served their purpose: locations often centrally located, close to the market and schools/universities/libraries, and in almost all cases, the owner’s family and even relatives had become very close to Raju’s family.

This story takes place in the mid-1970s, when Raju’s father was transferred back to a small town where they still have fond memories of their previous stay in a very friendly neighborhood. This time, however, they could not settle for the same rented house that Raju and his siblings loved so much and had to fix up a small house in the market area. A narrow gravel driveway branched off the main road leading to a brick wall sealing off the next business campus on the left hand side, the owner’s spacious bungalow on the right and further in, at the end of the drive, stood a fairly large house. narrow. which Raju’s father rented.

The owner was a very busy, gentlemanly contractor and was rarely seen around; Raju saw his father talking to him in the most cordial manner only once or twice in his two-year stay. The landlord’s family did not interact with Raju’s family and hardly ever made family visits. Raju hardly knew who the owner’s family members were, especially the children, as he rarely met any of them. Only occasionally, going to and from the main road, he would see a boy, probably younger than himself, and a younger daughter. As a socially active boy just entering college, Raju wanted to make friends with them, but there was no opportunity for that.

Raju had to attend the university every day on the family bicycle that his father once used for his regular tours, and attending classes in sandals was strictly prohibited in the university; therefore Raju needed a good pair of shoes as his old pair was bursting at the seams. Finally, at the beginning of a summer month, he got the okay from his father. Raju had already been searching and found that a shoe store was giving good discounts on various types of shoes.

So, with the formally sanctioned money given to him by his mother, Raju headed to the nearby shoe store around noon one day. After spending a good enough time selecting along with the range of discounts available, Raju finally bought a pair of black leather shoes, managing to save a few dollars from the sanctioned amount which he was not required to repay.

Raju entered the street in a victorious and joyful mood. He only took a few steps when the owner’s son suddenly appeared on the front terrace and rushed over to him without any attempt to address him or even give him a polite smile. Raju stopped short, not knowing how to react-smile or say hello or whatever; he just stood there feeling a bit silly with the shoebox in his hands, clinging to the box apologizing for which he didn’t understand why. The box suddenly became too heavy.

The boy now approached him and asked: “Have you bought anything?”

“Yes…yes! Just a…” Raju stammered, and before he could finish speaking, the boy took the box from his hands, opened it, and lifted one of the shoes into the air, examining it from above. all possible angles. .

“It looks good! Where did you buy it?” the boy muttered, still examining.

“At the Bata store just around the corner from the main road. They were…” Raju tried to sound matter-of-fact.

“It must have cost you a lot!” said the boy finally putting the shoe in the box and handing it back to Raju.

“Not much. They were giving a good discount…!”

“Oh!” with that, the boy returned to his house as suddenly as he appeared and disappeared inside as if nothing happened, leaving Raju shocked: a high school boy whom he never had the chance to meet or even talk to, he chose that unorthodox moment. to interact. Walking slowly towards his house, Raju felt a bit relaxed after getting the most unexpected approval.

Raju narrated the experience to his mother and amused siblings. His mother considered all the possibilities of a typical neighbor’s natural curiosity or a subtle act of eavesdropping, and ultimately agreed with the general perception of a landlord’s legitimate duty to monitor the activities of his tenants even if there was no social admixture. . , and perhaps the child was assigned that sacred duty. They ended the conversation with a good laugh as they enjoyed a delicious lunch. Of course, the matter was never brought to the attention of Raju’s father for fear that it would damage his relationship with the chivalrous owner.

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