A Refugee in Noida: Life in the shadow of a looming demolition

Just shy of a year, uncles with chests puffed in pride handed out sweets on the lush lawns of Emerald Court. They were basking in a legal victory. The Supreme Court had deemed two Noida towers illegal and ordered their razing in three months.
 Noida twin towers (IANS)
Noida twin towers (IANS)

Just shy of a year, uncles with chests puffed in pride handed out sweets on the lush lawns of Emerald Court. They were basking in a legal victory. The Supreme Court had deemed two Noida towers illegal and ordered their razing in three months.

I was perplexed as bulldozers as a penal tool had not reached our lexicon and so we raided YouTube for magical means to demolish the craggy skyscrapers dwarfing our Emerald Court housing complex. There were none and it was frightening.

Tick-tock went the clock and my heartbeat raced because of the fear of a botched demolition by wreckers brought in from South Africa. It could rob us of our cacophonous dream home at Aster 2 -- the most vulnerable block.

In 2018, we left behind the humdrum of Delhi for Noida's serenity. My father scented blood in its four golf courses while my mother merrily settled down after her 60 years of city life. We thumbed our nose at the twin towers menacing us from barely 30 feet away.

We ignored the power cuts or the lonely drives to work with ruffian motorists as a company. Only our home mattered. Nothing else.

But now there is the question mark. Chatty neighbors are comforting each other of a smooth execution on August 28 -- each now an expert after reading up on demolitions in China, Hong Kong, and the United States.

But with days left, uncles and aunties now scurry with bubble wrapping sheets or cardboard covers to shield windows, TV sets, crystals, or their hidden collection of liquor bottles from serrated concrete that may fly.

Inaction is harrowing so many from the younger age block packing borrowed suitcases with private treasures and with one last longing look at their pillaged cupboards left home.

"Do we see our home again? A home we built with careful love?" is a question on many lips but I dare not ask as it can bring bad omen. Now people are talking in hushed tones.

Residents are comforting their families with complex insurance they have bought from companies unheard of before. Children are asking parents to "chill".

Yes. For me it is chilling. For reasons unknown, the lyrics of a little-known song by the group called Heritage Singers are doing the rounds of my troubled mind:

"When sparrows fall from lofty heights...

When wings aren't strong enough for flight...

When sparrows fall and dreams lay shattered...

And all hope is out of sight"

It also fills me with mindless rage for having to be wrenched out of the comfort that I found in Emerald Court after living next to a Metro station for years in India's mad mad capital. So the anger drove me to look for the truth behind the rise of the twin towers.

It soon became frighteningly clear that whatever excuse they may spew, Emerald Court RWA had acted late to seek legal recourse. The builder's might was also evident as were the dark suspicions of collusion.

The partners in this terrible crime will be unmasked one day. That is a promise I make to myself. Home, or no home. (AA/IANS)

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