The land owner of the place I am currently staying at, Mr Raju, is a nice man. We have had a long association. I am the oldest tenant in this particular building, and he does not want me to leave his house. Why? I will get back to that later.

But I have wanted to shift from here for some time now. One year six months, to be precise. When I made up my mind to move out of the house I have stayed in for years, and where my dad spent his last few days, I thought finding a house wouldn’t be tough, if not a cakewalk. Finding Mr Raju’s house wasn’t tough. And the few questions he asked me at the time of renting it out, included: ‘Will you be staying here alone?’ ‘Are you married?’ To which my reply was but one: ‘I am engaged. And would have him visit me sometimes.’

Mr Raju didn’t question anything further. He also never realized (or maybe he did) that I had lied. I wasn’t engaged. I just didn’t want questions on
‘who is visiting?’

Over the years here, my friends have dropped in, stayed back, and the landlord never questioned me. Because I never created a ruckus — like the boys staying in the flat opposite mine used to, sometimes — or disturbed anyone — like the family on the floor below mine does, playing loud songs; or another on the first floor where the husband was violent with his wife. My friend who used to be their neighbour had told me about it. The couple moved out a few years back.

Like I said, I am the oldest tenant in this building. I haven’t disturbed or bothered anyone. All I did was live life on my own terms. And that’s how it should be. By the way, Mr Raju once told me that he never asked me much because I came on recommendation, also because I am a journalist. He liked news, he had told me. Well, thank you.

I need a bigger place, a little more space, and some calm, because I write all the time. Point is, my current locality has gotten super crowded, what with Metro constructions et al. So, in February last year, I decided to look for places, oblivious of what was in store. I resorted to online platforms, and thus began house hunting. But where do I find a place, when everyone wants to rent their property to ‘family only’! Well, most people, if not all.

The process (of house hunting) has been a reality check of sorts. Oh! Please, I mean it in a ‘NOT’ nice way. I have been reminded of my single status like never before, making me question: Is being single my only identity? Why does my identity as a single woman matter so much? Why should it matter at all?

I did find answers, but in the most ridiculous of things I have been told.

There is this house that I went to check in January this year. Though the advertisement read: tenants preferred — family; I took a chance, because how else will I find a place when most of the listings have ‘family’ as a preference! Also, by now (I started last February, remember?) I had learned that I would have to take a chance as the few properties open to having ‘bachelors’ as tenants didn’t match my taste, area or budget.

When I called the concerned person and asked if he is willing to rent it out to a single woman, he came across as progressive. “Yes,” he said, and told me I could check out the apartment. I loved the place, but also found out at the security that the housing society had a rule against having unmarried people as tenants. To ensure that there are no problems in the future, I thought it best to check with the landowner about this particular rule. And he confirmed that there indeed is such a rule laid out by the housing society members. So, I asked him why is he ready to rent it out to me then. This is what he said: ‘Because girls don’t bring boys home.’

I wanted to ask him, ‘Which age are you living in?’ But I didn’t, I was zapped. After a pause, I told him that I think it shouldn’t matter as long as one is not disturbing others. To which he didn’t nod in agreement. On the contrary, he said: ‘It’s not about disturbing. It’s about children watching and learning all the wrong ways.’ Again, I was zapped.

So, when I got back home, I began to think. If I am a single woman and have men coming to my place, it invariably means we are having a ‘thing’? Alright, even if I am, why does it matter to anyone else what I do in my personal life? Is this what identity is all about?

I wouldn’t be able to change the world. So, I decided to change my search game and hoped it worked. Please note that this is a trick/lesson I picked up from the tedious house hunting experience. This particular place that I was interested in taking was a little beyond my budget. But the area and the house looked nice. However, I was in for a disappointment when the owner told me it’s meant for couples. On hearing this, I told him, alright, I will take the place as a couple. In my head, I had made a calculation of how things work. But, no, it didn’t work. The owner told me he meant “married couple”. (God! Someone please kill me!)
What is it about ‘family’ that ‘bachelors’ lack? Responsibility? Discipline? Okay, let’s clear that out. Being single is a responsibility in itself because you have to do things on your own. Every damn thing. As far as discipline is concerned, I really don’t get it. I mean who says families live a disciplined life, and don’t have issues. What does it even mean — disciplined family life? I mean, discipline as in not having affairs unlike bachelors? Oh! Please give me a break!

Hold on. I am not done yet. Another place that I was considering taking had one of the weirdest rules. This place was listed on a Facebook community page. The owner was willing to rent it to bachelors/singles. But no male could enter my house! I was so mad that I asked him: “Father? Brother? Cousin?” He said: “No male. You will have to meet all male members outside the house!”

This was beyond my reaction, really.

I am tired. I seriously am. These things that I keep hearing depress me. It compels me to think if being single is such a sin; I have searched every nook and corner, have discovered more areas than I thought existed in this city, just to find a house. But all I get to hear is ‘bachelors not allowed’. Or, if they are allowed, the rules are laid out unlike those that don’t exist for ‘families’.

This might take longer. My search for a house, that is. But I am not giving up. And I am certainly not in a rush to qualify for ‘family only’.

Before I go house hunting, there is one particular house and owner I want to specifically tell you about. The person was super cool. He is the only one who had told me he doesn’t care who comes or stays or even if I live in with someone. It was such a welcome change. However, I couldn’t take that place. It was really far.

Oh! I am checking out a house tomorrow. Wish me luck.

And, the reason why Mr Raju does not want me to shift out of his house? Because I suffer from OCD. I am a cleanliness freak. Obviously then, his house remains spic and span. Consider that an identity? Nah!

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