The Windfall by Diksha Basu Read Online (FREE)
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Mr. Jha had worked hard and he was ready to live well.
“Seeing that all of you are here, we have some news,” he said to the neighbors assembled in the small living room of his home in the Mayur Palli Housing Complex in East Delhi. He was nervous, so he looked over at his wife, who was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, and his son, Rupak, who was at home for the summer vacation, sitting on a dining table chair. His wife met his gaze and nodded gently, expectantly, encouraging him to hurry up and share the news. And he knew he had to, before the gossip spread through the housing complex. Tonight they had invited their closest friends—Mr. and Mrs. Gupta, Mr. and Mrs. Patnaik, and Mrs. Ray—to tell them that after about twenty-five years (they had moved in when Mrs. Jha was eight months pregnant) they were moving out, and not just moving out, but moving to Gurgaon, one of the richest new neighborhoods of Delhi.
It would have been easier, in a way, to announce a move to Dubai or Singapore or Hong Kong. Mr. Jha himself had often been part of conversations that criticized families for moving to different Delhi neighborhoods the minute they could afford to. And certainly nobody of his generation had moved out in recent years. He was fifty-two years old, his wife was forty-nine, and their twenty-three-year-old son was in business school in America. The move was going to be seen as an unnecessary display of his newly acquired wealth. And since the money had come from the onetime sale of a website, everyone in Mayur Palli treated it with suspicion. Nobody believed it was hard-earned money. “A lucky windfall,” he had heard Mr. Gupta call it. But Mr. Jha knew that it had been anything but luck; it had been hard work.
If an outsider, a stranger, were to see them all gathered here, would he see that Mr. Jha was different, Mr. Jha wondered? He was five foot eight and was neither impressively fit nor impressively fat. The fact that he didn’t have the traditional trappings of success worried him these days. He liked fitting in.
The new house in Gurgaon was a two-story bungalow with front and back yards, and they knew nothing at all about the neighbors yet. The house was tucked into a quiet lane away from the traffic and chaos of the rest of Delhi. Unlike in other parts of the city, all the drains were properly sealed and the streets were swept and cleaned on a regular basis. Big, decades-old neem trees lined both sides of their lane, and it was the kind of quiet that made it a place that hawkers and beggars avoided.
It was a much more lavish home and neighborhood than Mr. Jha had ever imagined himself living in. Not only did the doors fit in their frames, but most of the light switches had dimmers. There was a separate servants’ quarter at the back, and a wall went around the periphery so nobody could look in or out. Unlike Mayur Palli, and the rest of East Delhi for that matter, the houses in Gurgaon were spaced grandly apart and interactions between the neighbors seemed minimal. Mr. Jha knew he was supposed to want that—that was how rich people’s tastes were supposed to be.