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Picha

When poor Kapata won the match he lost

Kapata had not taken living in a slum lightly though. In fact he lived there for lack of where else to go. He was therefore a distressed man even as he sold fruits is a shack he put up close to his dilapidated structure for a house. Moreover, the valley was a flood prone area declared as an inhabitable place and the residents were wanted out.

For quite some time Kapata had wanted to move out of the place, but the financial wherewithal to acquire a new plot in a surveyed area in the city was hardly within his reach. Not even his trade as a fruiterer could earn him enough money to buy a plot of land for a better house.

Tall and laggard in movement, Kapata could not therefore     be happier  when Amir Pandu came along and offered the residents of the valley each 40m/- for their houses irrespective of whether the houses were reed shelters or tinned structures. Most of the residents had, like the one Kapata lived in, a mud houses.

Nearly all the valley’s residents accepted the offer. But Kapata hesitated. He had always wanted to start a restaurant and the coming of Pandu provided him with an ideal opportunity to earn enough cash for a second house, a restaurant notwithstanding.
So when Pandu offered him 40m/- for the shack he lived in with his family, he declined to accept the amount and instead demanded three times the sum.

Aged 35 with a belly that prevented him from seeing his legs when he stood up, Pandu looked at Kapata and just sympathised with him. If he wanted to take Kapata’s plot of land the way other ruthless like other tycoons did, he would do it and Kapata would move out of the area with nothing.

The more the Asian tycoon looked at Kapata, the more he thought Kapata was famished.  A famished person refusing food offered! It shocked him, but he would press the poor man. That Kapata did not know Pandu had big and powerful connections in the country’s corridors of power, only made Kapata appeared more pathetic to Pandu, who became even more emboldened by his financial power and pressed harder for the plot.      

The merchant saw Kapata as a desperate person trying to fight away three lions that had cornered him. The tycoon smiled to himself. Sure, he was a man of connections and knew people who mattered. If he wanted, he could take Kapata’s plot of land and the man would not get a penny.

Still, Pandu put up a semblance of sympathy and benevolence, reminding Kapata that for a plot like the one they were talking about,  40m/- was far out of the question and the most appropriate amount would be around 7m/-. Of course Pandu would not buy out an occupier of a plot by making someone else rich. It was sinful.

But when Kapata still refused to accept double the amount he offered for the plot of land Kapata had occupied for 15 years, Pandu decided that he must take the piece of land by some other means although those other means were limited.
After all his schemes failed, Pandu just began to build his ginnery. The wall of the ginnery graced Kapata’s house. When it was complete and operational, the noise was horrendous.

Kapata may have been poor and unlearned, but he too had friends with connections and they helped him get legal assistance. Pandu was charged with causing nuisance to his neighbour Kapata. Pandu argued that he had built a wall and if the noise penetrated the wall, he had nothing more to do.

“Before your arrival in the area, my client Kapata did not suffer such noise,” argued Kapata’s  advocate. “The onus of duty therefore full rests upon you to either reduce the noise to a bearable level or to eliminate it all together.” The case appeared heavily inclined for Kapata but it dragged on for several months. Moreover, Pandu now directed the ginnery’s effluent pipe in the direction of Kapata’s residence and the stench reduce Kapata’s life into plain misery.

It never rained but poured for the magistrate, who heard the case went on a sick leave. In the meantime, Kapata lived with both the nuisance of nearly incessant noise from the ginnery and the stench of effluent from it at the back of his house. The surroundings just became unbearable for him. One of Kapata’s  child became seriously ill. The doctor diagnosed the boy with inflamed lungs due to inhaling much industrial fumes.

“Get out of the area fast or your children will die,” said the doctor. The next day Kapata walked into Pandu’s office in the ginnery. “Let’s talk,” he told Pandu. After a long negotiation, they settled for 85m/-. “I think that is right because, as you can see, my boy is seriously ill from inhaling industrial fumes of your ginnery,” he told Pandu, who was only too glad to write him a cheque.

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Author: LAWI JOEL

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