It was never meant to be this way. Valli Perumal’s father bought a house in this village when he retired in 1965 after the previous owner returned to India.
“Have you heard anything about our houses?” asks a despairing Valli Perumal – Photo by Anil
Perumal had worked with the city council and thought that the tranquil village provided an idyllic setting for his family.
His daughter, Valli, was fifteen then, and she grew up in the village, where her family reared goats for a living.
Now 59, she lost her cancer-stricken husband a couple of years ago. She lives with her two daughters – one of them works in an electronics factory, the other in a hotel – alongside her sister, who owns the house, and their extended family.
Looking at me with faint glimmer of hope, she asked, “Have you heard anything about our houses?”
But her misty eyes betrayed her despair and the deep sadness; the black rings hinted of sleepless nights.
I asked her how she felt – which immediately struck me as a dumb question. I didn’t know what else to say. All the usual questions that journalists normally ask seem redundant. How do you talk to someone whose house is being demolished?
She was at a loss for words. But no words were needed. Her face said it all.
Electricity had been cut off in her home and its seven occupants are spending the night in darkness.
I asked her if the demolition crew had wrecked her home and she nodded. So how were they using the house?
“Oh, they tore down a section of the wall, but we are still using the rest of the house.”
A friend of mine said he had spoken to another villager, who told him: “All my children are sleeping outside. I have nowhere else to take them.
“I am not greedy if I did not take the compensation because all I wanted was my family home which is here. It is sentimental to my family.”