The Greek Landlord! [Part 2 of 2]

Next morning, Aruna was woken up the familiar barbeque aroma. She checked her bedside clock, it was 9:20 on this warm sunday morning. She picked up her phone and checked Ajay’s FB page to see if he had reached his destination. There was a check-in posted by him a few minutes ago at the Melbourne International Airport. She knew he would only call once he had reached his hotel. She picked up Ajay’s evening robe, that she had kept near her all night to feel close to him, put it on and walked to open the windows for some fresh air. It was quite warm after a cold wintery rainy night. And she could see the landlord grilling meat on barbeque in his backyard. There were two more men and one lady, they all looked in their 30s and were having fun ,chatting animatedly and laughing. His mother was no where in site. Aruna loathed non vegetarian food, specially pork and beef and when her place started to smell terrible as she came out of the shower, she realised that opening the windows this morning was a big mistake. She grew nauseous and made herself a cup of hot infusion tea. Sitting on her dining sipping her cuppa, while reading the newspaper, she heard some noises from downstairs. When she made an effort to hear, she realised it was his landlord’s voice that was the most loud in the argument. The other voice was that of a lady, not of his mom though, because this lady was using some good English words as well. Perhaps it was the lady she had seen in his backyard a few minutes ago. The other two men, or his mom were not heard. With what she could get of the feud, Aruna understood it was something about this upstairs place that she had moved into. This girl was probably Nico’s girlfriend and wanted him to move upstairs with her, but he had already signed a year’s lease.

She heard the downstairs door bang then, and saw the girl leaving in her sexy two door sports BMW. Which girlfriend would anyway like to live in that mess that he has downstairs, Aruna thought upon recalling her brief view into the house from outside last morning. But why wasn’t the mommy taking care of the house below….may be she was too old to do that, Aruna put her thoughts to rest then. She got ready and then took her car keys, her grocery list, and headed downstairs, locking the main door behind her. When she drove her car out of the garage, she saw the old lady standing at the same place, looking deep into the orange orchards. Aruna dipped her car windows and waved at her, but she wasn’t looking. “Of course she would have heard my car pulling out of the drive way, how rude of her to not wave a hello, may be she judged me last night” Aruna drove away to the grocery store with yesterday’s events hovering on her mind.

Aruna stood shocked & scared on the stairway when she returned with her overflowing brown bags only to find her main door up the stairs ajar. She clearly remembered locking the door behind her when she had left. Burglaries were rare in Limassol, how could Ajay have come back to surprise her, not possible even he flew on a rocket,  The landlord had a spare key, may be he had come to fix up the missing blinds, but this was no way of barging into without resident’s permission…Aruna’s mind was coming up with all sorts of scenarios. With brave steps she entered into the house. There was no one in the lounge or kitchen or the hall way. She put down her brown bags just next to the door, and stood there trying to hear for steps or someone talking. She even picked up an expensive vase from a stand that was right next to the door, just in case. Just then she heard a lady hum a tune. It was coming from the third bedroom, that had once been the kid’s room. With the vase still strong in her hands, she came to the door of the room and was furious to find the landlord’s momma trying to arrange her grand child’s things back to where they were. What are you doing? Aruna shouted, You cant come in just like that, Hello?, putting the vase steadily on the floor of the bedroom, but the landlord’s momma didn’t pay any attention and just smiled at Aruna. Aruna was now fuming, she marched straight into the kitchen to call the landlord from the intercom. No one picked up downstairs and when Aruna reached for her mobile in her purse that was still lying around outside the door, she realised that momma landlord had left. Outraged she called the landlord on his cell phone, and he didn’t answer that as well. She dialed Ajay’s hotel number then, which he had given her when he had called a few hours ago while she was at the grocers, woke him up and blurted out “ How could she do it, Doesn’t she have any manners, I cleaned up that whole room and she messed it all up again, how dare she misuse the key, why the hell isn’t Nicos picking up my call, am gonna take that key away from her, I swear!! and while still not getting a hang of what his wife was screaming for from a few thousand miles away, Ajay said sleepily “Calm down hun, its fine, just calm down, talk to Nicos and it should be fine” He was too jet lagged to understand any of Aruna’s dialougue.

Aruna tried Nico’s number a few more times and when he didn’t answer, she thought to catch him downstairs when he returns in the night. She stood in the balcony, waiting for Nicos to return that night but he didn’t. Finally, she gave up, and left a message for him on his phone narrating the incident and the inappropriate behaviour of his mom and that she would not tolerate it if she ever does that again.

She made some Maggi Noodles for herself and then sat on her comfortable lounge to forget about it all. She had already taken off the baby’s things again into the box and rearranged the room. She turned on the TV, her favourite show “ Air Crash Investigations” was on. She loved this show and started watching intently. Today’s episode was about the Helios Airways Flight 522, that had crashed into mountains, north of Greece, whilst flying from Larnaca, Cyprus. Lack of oxygen and running out of fuel had brought about the eventual crash of this ill-fated aircraft with 121 people on board. And then what Aruna saw, swept her off her feet. In the footage shown of the family people on the Cyprus airport, trying to get one last information on their loved one’s journey, she saw the Momma Landlord crying in full pitch and the sub titles said “ My daughter, her husband and my little grandchild were on that plane, Please save them, For God’s sake they had just gone for a small vacation, How can this happen, I love my babies, Bring them back Please!”

Aruna couldn’t feel her legs, she could feel her heart beating louder than a train, She couldn’t believe she was living in a house which was inhabited by three poor innocent people who lost their lives in an unexpected time. No wonder she had been feeling eerie, and she had thought it was just the moving stress.

That was not the end, what Aruna heard next on the show was unnerving, they showed the picture of a family member of the air passengers who had killed herself failing to come to terms with losing her children all so suddenly. Aruna couldn’t believe her eyes – the picture she was watching was of the old lady, the Momma Landlord. She felt her heart sink, as the phone started to ring, She didn’t dare pick it up and it went straight to voicemail. Aruna’s vision blurred as she saw the Momma Landlords sitting right on the other end of the sofa, smiling at her….and far away in the distance she could hear Nico’s voice on her phone “What, My Mumma? Are you crazy, my mumma passed away long time ago, what’s wrong with you?”  and then the fading noises of ambulance was all she heard before she heard anything any more, nothing at all.

The Greek Landlord! [Part 1 of 2]

Well, this is my first fictional work on this blog, would genuinely appreciate feedback from the readers.

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As she saw the Limousine pull up in the driveway , Aruna called out from her balcony ”The cab is here, Hun”. Aruna and Ajay had moved into this first floor apartment just a week ago. It was there second rental place in Limassol within a year of coming to Cyprus from India. They had started looking out for another home around a month ago, when their apartment on the Ommonia Avenue had become too noisy in the summers from the late night biker stunts on the main road. They were looking for a quite location and when their estate agent had shown them this property in Zakaki, they were more than delighted to discover a gem at this price and had not taken more than an hour to sign the lease with the landlord who lived on the ground floor of this one storey house. This was the first of the four houses in this block, faced by a huge Church right opposite the road with an orange orchard next to it. It was just the perfect quiet setting and Aruna and Ajay weren’t surprised to see the amazement in their friends’ eyes when they had organised a little house warming get together the very next day of moving in.

Ajay came out of the master bedroom on the rear end of the floor with the luggage and stood in the hall way trying to mentally check the list of things that he would require for the trip. This was his first business trip after their wedding, although a little hesitant to leave Aruna all alone for a week, he was also excited for his first trip to Australia.

Passport? Aruna asked

Check! Ajay said while grabbing his cabin baggage from the sofa

Tickets & Papers?

Check!

Wallet?

Check!

They were down the stairs now and out on the drive way and while Ajay helped the cab driver put his luggage in the boot, Aruna was pulling up all her courage not to shed a tear. Ajay hugged her “You are strong girl and its only a matter of a week, Anyway, you have to clear up a lot of things from above and given that cleaning up is above all world for you, seven days would go by really easy”, Aruna smiled and gave him a good luck kiss. Off went the cab. Aruna stood in the drive way and stared at the Limousine until it was out of her sight. Then came a tear as she turned back and looked up, took a deep breath and started walking towards the stairs.  Just then, she saw an old lady standing behind the glass door of her landlords house on the ground floor. She was medium height, probably in her early 60s and looked Greek. She had small, unmade hair and a round face that looked sad. If one looked closely at her dress, sleepers and face, they would know that she hadn’t been out in months. Aruna gave her a smile, guessing that it might be Momma landlord. A smile was returned and Aruna kept walking towards the stairs not wanting to pile on with her overflowing emotional burst on anyone that she was meeting for the first time.

As she reached upstairs, locked the door behind her, she knew seven days were simply nothing looking at the mess and the amount of things she had to clear up in order to settle her stuff in to this place. The landlord had said that this house belonged to his sister, brother in law and their two year old kid, who had to move to Greece recently due to some important business issues. What had seemed strange to Aruna and Ajay was that why hadn’t they bothered to move their stuff along with them. May be the furniture was too big a liability, but what about the kids toys and crib. The house was in full working condition and the only thing that Aruna and Ajay had moved in with was their clothes, which were just too many, their big screen TV, too many books, too many gadgets that Ajay was fond of and a few items that are a must for and only found in an Indian kitchen. Everything else that would be required to settle in was already there, from furniture to white goods, even smaller accessories like fridge magnets. And it was all of the best quality available. Aruna and Ajay had thought they had hit a jackpot to have got this beautiful and luxurious apartment on such a reasonable rent. It was even close to work for both of them. It was all they had ever wanted.

Aruna started cleaning up. She had to pack up all the stuff that they didn’t need, like the kids toys, crib, DVDs in the rack since they were in Greek etc and drop it in landlord’s driveway, as he had asked. The landlord, Nikos, appeared to be quite nice when they were signing the lease. He had also asked them to let him know if they needed something to be fixed in this house and that he would be happy to help them settle in. He had sent a cleaning lady on the day they had moved in. But Aruna and Ajay hadn’t quite seen him after that day. They only saw his mini truck parked in his driveway a few nights ago and had long gone when they came out in the morning to go to work. His house was all glass from the front and as one could see inside in the day time, not very well kept. Apart from a big home theatre system, standing out somewhere in between the numerous piles of clothes and rubbish here and there, one could tell he was not married and that no lady took care of this house. In the evenings, the light was never on, perhaps he stayed more towards the rear side of the house, Aruna and Ajay had thought. Of one week that they had stayed in the house, Aruna and Ajay hadn’t heard anything ever from the house down the stairs. But while packing up today, Aruna was wondering what did the old lady do all day in that silent house. She remembered that she had to remind the landlord for a missing blind on the right window of the second bedroom. She could have called the landlord on his cell phone, but then, her social self made her decide to go downstairs herself, and have a word or two with the landlord’s mom. She anyway had to go to drop off the box of useless things.

She rung the doorbell and put down the box to the side of the door. No one answered. She rung again and again, because something in her mind said that it cant be that the old lady had gone away, this morning when she had seen her, she didn’t look like an outgoing type person. She looked more of a stay at home mum.  A thought came to Aruna, may be she’s deaf or hears hardly, so she tried to peep in through the glass walls, but there was no one in sight that Aruna could sign signal to open the door. She might be in the washroom, Aruna thought and left the box there thinking to come back sometime later.

When she reached upstairs again, in a few minutes she got so involved in opening her suitcases and boxes and putting everything at the right place, she didn’t even realise that it was evening already and that she hadn’t had her lunch yet. By the time she sat on the couch in the living room with her big bowl of maggi noodles, it had started raining heavily. The asbestos sheet on the roof of the mezzanine floor had been creating enough noise from the rain drops to give her a headache. Thanks to her undisturbed concentration, her house was now all set, all their dresses hanging nicely in the closets, all things placed at the expected places and the house was sparkling clean. Proud of her work, she took a deep sigh and turned on the TV, turned in the DVD of her favourite music and stepped back to sit on her couch again when she saw the old lady standing outside her glass door. Aruna smiled and welcomed her in, saying Hello. The old lady nodded and Aruna directed her to have a seat. Aruna asked if she would like a coffee in this cold weather, but the lady replied in No with a gesture, Probably she was not very good at English, Aruna thought. The lady then said something in Greek, in a slow tone, which Aruna tried her best to understand with what little knowledge of the language she had. Probably she was saying thanks for returning her grand child’s things in a box this morning, Aruna guessed and smiled. And then just as Aruna was trying to start a conversation with the easiest English words, The old lady started saying things quite rapidly in Greek and Aruna lost complete track of the words. The old lady, by the time had finished her animated speech in Greek, had tears in her eyes. Not sure as to how to react to this unexpected outburst by this unknown lady, Aruna stood up to sit near to the old lady to give her a comforting hand, but the old lady stood up and walked to the door.

As the old lady went downstairs, Aruna stood near her sofa, staring at her now cold maggi noodles, thinking about what just happened, did she behave properly or should she have been more comforting, why was the old lady so sad, what did she actually say or what was she trying to say…Just then her phone rang, It was Ajay from transit in Dubai and while talking to him, Aruna completely forgot about her encounter with the strange old lady. She prepared a fresh hot soup for herself when she hung up, had her soup in bed and didn’t even realise when she was far into her dreams.

To be continued…