I am not what you could call a religious person despite the fact that my mother is heavily into religion and that I went to a convent school. But I would not call myself an atheist either. Yes, I do believe there is a God in a vague sort of way , a feeling that used to become stronger during examination and results declaration times. In my less desperate moments I used to wonder whether all this faith in some unseen force was really worth it?
But not any longer. I have had a very strange experience during the course of the last month that is beyond coincidence or good luck. It has made me very reflective.
It all started when we decided to sell a flat that we own. As we do not live there and since it was a government housing board construction that was slowly falling apart, we decided to sell it. We ourselves had bought it from a previous owner nearly twelve years ago. We had a tenant living there who agreed to buy it at what we thought was a decent rate for a building like that.
The deal was to have taken place towards the middle of May. The buyer being a self employed person was having his loan application scrutinized more closely by financial institutions. It was during this scrutiny that a mistake was discovered in the sale deed that was executed between us and our seller. It showed the area under the un divided share ( UDS) to be half of what it actually was!! The trouble , we realized came about during our sale because in the early 2000s this concept of UDS was not very well defined. When the person we had purchased it from had bought it off the TNHB ( in the early nineties) there was no concept of a UDS! So it did not figure in their sale deed. To put it legally, it now looked like we were owners of only half the area of a property that we were planning to sell!!! We had no reason to believe that the previous owner had duped us in the deal because I knew him from the early nineties to be a very decent person!! Infact the reason why we had decided to buy that flat in the first place was for sentimental value as that was the house that I used to stay in with my friends when I first moved to Chennai. Mr. V the then owner was a very progressive gentleman who had never thought twice about renting it to single girls. I had met my husband while I was living there and it was for us a part of those early days. This mistake in the deed with regard to the number was obviously something that both of us had overlooked.
The question now was how to sort out the problem. Legal opinion informed us that we would have to execute with the district registrar a rectification deed which would have to be signed by both Mr. V and us. We were informed of this on a Saturday afternoon. I was at a loss because I had completely lost touch with Mr V in the twelve years after the sale. I contacted a friend who used to live there after we had vacated. But he had no clue about Mr V’s whereabouts either. The sale deed document listed the flat that we were buying as his address. I remember going to his mother’s house in another part of town once to give in the rent. But my friend H and former flat mate informed me that the house no longer existed and had been turned into an office complex. I was really worried by then as it now appeared that we could not sell it as we were legally not complete owners. Just as I was putting back the sale deed document I happened to look at the witnesses. One of the witness to the sale deed was me while the other was a Mr. S whose complete address was given below his name. I called the BSNL directory enquiry to find his phone number using the address given but they were not able to help me.
It was then that I embarked on what my husband called “a wild goose chase”. I decided to physically locate this address. Meanwhile my friend H said she would meet me outside Mr. V’s then ancestral home so that we could enquire of neighbors if required.
But it seemed like God himself rode an auto rickshaw with me that afternoon. I found that address very easily. Mr. S was not at home and I was informed by the watchman that he was on a pilgrimage. But he referred me to an office in the same building where they gave me Mr S’s telephone number. I spoke to him introducing myself and he in turn texted me Mr. V’s number. Mr. S it turned out later was Mr. V ‘s older brother. He also told me that his brother now lived in an area that was practically two streets away from where we live!!! To say I was amazed would be an understatement as I was under the impression that he now lived in Bangalore
I met up with my friend and over a cup of coffee at Vasanta Bhavan we decided that we should speak to Mr. V immediately. I called Mr V who remembered me and sounded pleasantly surprised to hear from me. I explained the matter to him and asked him when it would be possible to meet him. He said we could meet him any time as he now led a retired life. We decided to leave immediately for his place.
I was a bit apprehensive about what he would have to say but he was most cooperative. He was delighted to meet H and me and spent an hour chatting with us. When my husband I met him again the next day with the documents to explain the matter in more detail, there was no change in his behavior. All he wanted was some kind of an assurance from us that we would indemnify him from any legal action with regard to any further issues that might arise. So we went ahead with the registration process. Mr V braved the May heat and came with us to the registrar’s office . My friend H also came along and was the witness to this new deed. We did not incur any extra expenditure besides the registration cost on the extra square feet mentioned in the UDS.
We subsequently went ahead with the sale of the apartment.
As I think back about this experience I am convinced that there was a God who was with us. While I did not hear or see his footsteps, I felt his presence – in Mr. V and in my friend H. While you may say that H was bound by the dictates of friendship I can cite you examples of many such “friends” I have had in my life who have made enemies seem better. And about Mr. V I can only say that he is what my father calls “a true gentleman from a decent family”. While he was rightfully annoyed with his brother for giving out his number so easily ( without even meeting me) he did not indulge in any cheap bargaining tactics over the extra area. Legally speaking he could have negotiated and quoted a price for rectifying this document- after all it was like he was handing over another half of the property to us last month again after twelve years!! He understood the oversight that had happened from both our sides and helped us have it sorted out while at the same time rightfully protecting his interests.
What I cannot get over is the way these things untangled themselves so quickly. A lot had happened in the twelve years that had gone by. He had lost his wife. His children were settled abroad. Yet, I had found him living practically next door! Is this a miracle? I don’t think so because miracles seem like something happens suddenly. I think it was just God making his presence felt in my life. He was reassuring me that he would be there when we needed him and he would continue to be responsible for our welfare.
The line from the Gita “Yogakshemam Vahamyaham” – your welfare in my concern until now never meant anything to me other than a slogan of the Life Insurance Corporation of India. Today when I have experienced this I think differently.