On Being a Paperless Landlord
Dom Martin


Between God and man, all has been excellent and fair. As the undisputed Creator of the Universe, God owns more than one apartment complexes, of which, Planet Earth simply happens to be the most renowned and colonized. Obviously, our tenancy on Planet Earth begins with a piece of paper certifying our birth, and terminates with another piece of paper certifying our death or eviction therefrom.

In the eyes of God, I have to this day, thankfully, been a good tenant. I have paid my moral and social dues, unbegrudgingly, and owe no tax collector or his next of kin any grafts or bank-drafts. I have also been good to my neighbor, and have had no aspirations about becoming his landlord or his in-law.

Lately, however, I have been besieged with solicitations to purchase a luxury apartment or two in some of Goa's most exclusive developments. My dilemma, of course, is what am I to do with an apartment the use for which would be limited to my brief visits to Goa? Secondly, if I were to lease the apartment, I might be privy to inheriting a tenant who degenerates into a financial-bum, or who at my expense, contracts the squatters disease!

Notwithstanding the above, the notion of upgrading my social status to that of a landlord continues to allure me, even though in reality, I would only be owning a piece of concrete some two floors above a flat of dirt held in some one else's name. Indeed, I could consult a lawyer. He might adequately advise me to appoint a chowkidar to either guard my piece of concrete or the prospective tenant. He may also advise me to live within running distance of a Court of Law, in case the chowkidar seizes the opportunity to become the tenant himself, or forms a joint-occupancy pact with the tenant!

This predicament of whether to own or disown the proposed concrete got the attention of my long-time friend and confidant: Socrates de Haphazard Coelho. As an authority on material anxieties, Socrates lobbied the idea of a paperless landlord. And to expedite my comprehension of exactly what he was trying to imply, he cited Newton's Law of Physics: To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction!

Newton's law impressed me no less than it alarmed me, in that, in the present circumstances that law might very well translate itself into: To every asset, there is an equal and opposite liability! No thanks! I wasn't about ready to invest in a piece of concrete only to see it become my tombstone in the end!

Socrates appeared amused at the manner in which I regurgitated Newton's law into yet another paranoid concern. In any event, by citing Newton's Law, he was basically advocating ways to circumvent the reaction or the liability itself. For instance, he went on: A piece of paper asserting my rights as a landlord and the other's right as a tenant, entitles both parties to draw their disproportionate swords in Court! The saber-rattling could drag on for generations!

On the other hand, as a paperless landlord, I would be dealing with a paperless tenant. And since neither would look good by being paperless in Court, neither in that respect, would have a rattling edge over the other. In a paperless situation, therefore, Newton's Law conveniently becomes the Code of Karmic Procedures (CKP), in the sense: If the tenant is good and faithful, all will be excellent and fair. If the tenant is a degenerate, he is to find his belongings c/o of the Mandovi river!

This concept of a paperless co-existence with others suited my Gandhian temperament. It also made me ponder some more on God's sovereignty as a paperless landlord. The fact that no one has ever taken God to Court, or seen him stand in line to lick postage or court fee stamps, or for that matter, trail his omniscient lawyer in a forlorn gait . . . more than asserts his absolute autonomy as a paperless landlord!

God's autonomous success may be attributed to the ethereal fact that his Code of Paperless Procedures (CPP) is without any Greek. If low-income and destitute tenants fail to come forth with their dues, he disperses them though floods, famines, plagues, lightning and thunder. If he has to deal with belligerent bums and squatters, he plagues them with hypodermic-needles and cardiac arrests. But when it comes to cold-blooded murderers, he briskly dumps the question of their tenancy in the hands of the learned man in black gown, who for untenable reasons, still sits unprovided with any portable facilities to wash his hands while intoning the most dreaded words in the English language: ". . . . to be hung by the neck until dead!"

It is thus manifestly clear that against God's omnipotence, any human dadagiri is the equivalent of an epileptic bug! The thought that now gave me the jitters is how effective would my make-believe dadagiri be against a tenant who decides to become a paperless landlord at my excruciating expense?!

After deliberating at length on all of the above, I felt more inclined to acquaint myself with the would-be tenant on a piece of bond-paper that bears India's full name and address. That way, if the need ever arose to go to court, I would at least look bona fide in the eyes of the Magistrate. Hopefully perhaps, the Magistrate may also happen to own or lease an apartment or two, and therefore, have no qualms in despising the unconscionable tenant/defendant -- and his breed of heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns -- in no less grievous a manner than God and I would!

And if the Magistrate himself happens to be a tenant, I shall bear no prejudice. I will patiently hang on to my deteriorating piece of paper while he sits in judgement of it on the basis of how well my legal counsel can rattle his saber. Or in the event I am to represent myself, then it shall so be on the basis of how well I am able to rattle my home-made coito against the opposing counsel's talwar!

This article appeared in the issue of the Navhind Times dated March 31, 97, under the title: Man as Rival Power to God