Prabhu’s Apartments was a three storey building on the outskirts of the city. It housed a dozen families including Prabhu’s own. The open area in front and on the sides was meant for parking the vehicles of the owners of the flats that Prabhu had constructed and sold. Prabhu took a personal interest in the welfare of the inmates. The interest was his passion.
Prabhu was reading an article in the day’s newspaper on women’s empowerment when Raja, the caretaker, announced himself.
“There’s a lady who insists on parking her car in our front yard,” said Raja. He had told the lady time and again that the space was private and meant exclusively for the flat owners. But she came every week, parked her car in the yard, and walked majestically to the beauty parlour on the other side of the road, without caring two hoots for Raja’s request.
Fairness and justice was Prabhu’s predominant passion. How can people do such a thing? He asked himself. How can people just walk into somebody’s property and park their car or whatever?
He waited for the lady to return.
“Respected madam,” said Prabhu with his characteristic politeness and authority which had been reinforced presently by the article on women’s empowerment that he had just read. “The caretaker informs me that you’ve been parking your car here regularly in spite of his repeated entreaties against it. May I remind you that this is purely private space and it is meant for the parking of the inmates’ vehicles?”
Madam looked at Prabhu with a sneer that pierced through his retired army man’s chest. Her face glowed and glowered under the creams and colours slapped on at the beauty parlour. The diamond ear rings shattered the sunlight in kaleidoscopic colours.
“What’s the harm if I use your space for an hour?” she demanded.
“But the space belongs to...”
“... people who go out in the morning and come in the evening. At this time it’s free,” Madam completed Prabhu’s sentence.
“That’s not fair,” said Prabhu. “The people can come at any time. It’s their right...”
The argument went on for a moment more. Then Madam said, “Look here, mister. If you argue any more, I’ll file a case against you for trying to molest me. You don’t know who I am.”
She might have been a Panchayat Member, or the wife of some party worker, or the sister of a local goon.
Prabhu was glad to have encountered an empowered woman as he walked back to his flat with the decision to erect a wall with a gate in front of Prabhu’s Apartments.