I am not a lover of the apartment way of life. I want my children to have a little land around the house to chase butterflies and what not. But it seems like we human beings have no choice. Everywhere you look, the 'upwardly mobile’ people in cities are crammed into these tiny little shit holes (ignore the rich and affluent) we call an apartment. The term ‘bed space’ is slowly earning its reputation too.
Look at that woman just lying there. This was the picture that greeted me when I opened today’s news paper. The image moved me even before reading that the cause of her death (ya she is dead) was a terrible fall from her apartment (which is one among many in a building named Stephen court in Calcutta) while she was trying to escape a fire. There is something very inhuman and pathetic about the way she lays on that street near to a tyre. Has it ever crossed the poor woman’s mind while she was walking past the same flower pots that one day I will lie here dead.
My mind was desperately searching for something to blame my helplessness as it’s the case in tragic situations. Should I blame the population of India? Should I blame the contractors for not installing a proper fire fighting system or even a fire escape? What’s the point in blaming an ignorant child in causing a fire when the parents should have been careful about not letting a child play with fire? What about those stupid but unavoidable phone calls while something was on the stove? Is the traffic in India responsible for the delay in the arrival of a fire fighting unit. Can I blame the common greed of people (you and I are very much part of it) which obliterated the affordable housing and forgot the greater good? Why do people believe that everything is good in the cities?
Maybe that nameless woman like me wanted to stay in a beautiful house with some land around it. What made her compromise? To earn more money in a city so she can buy a house later in her village? Did she live there so that her children can go to good schools? Maybe she was born in the city and used to the life in tall structures.
Many people move to a flat in search of privacy. They prefer the closed environment of a flat to the prying eyes of curious neighbors in a village. It is a human predicament. When we are enjoying great health we feel like we don’t need anyone’s help. The neighbors can go to hell. But when we are in misery our selfish souls crave for company.
The most secure feature of a single or two storey house is that you can just run for your life in the event of a fire or earthquake. The chances for survival are relatively high. You don’t have to face or make that split second decision of whether you will survive if you jump from a fifth or seventh floor in the same situation.
However, apart from all these graphic images of people jumping through the windows into their deaths from flats, the same people will still flock to buy these apartments like flies attracted to the light of a lamp in darkness. I have only one piece of advice to all of them, your investment and life is always ‘up in the air’ buddy which can come anytime crashing down on you like it did for this poor woman.