Mr. and Mrs. Othello were elated. They just received news that they had inherited a house in the Delli Culta district, one of the prime locations in Lahore. Less welcome was the news that Mr Othello’s father had died and they had to conduct the proper funeral rites for him. In addition, they had to handle all the details concerning his demise before they could inherit the house. This was revealed by the lawyer in charge of the late Mr Othello’s will. An observer would not be wrong in surmising that the son was not close to his father.
The young Othello was the only son of the late Othello. He had a fierce row with his father when he wanted to marry his present wife, Dean, a pretty Australian and settle down with her in her homeland. The result was that his father had withdrawn all financial support and severed all ties with him. It was therefore a surprise for Alvin, the younger Othello, when he received news of the surprise windfall. “The old man must have forgiven me,” he thought to himself gleefully. Because he was not doing well in Australia, this was an opportune time to settle in Lahore.
Alvin dealt with all the necessary work to do with his father’s death. Filial-wise, he appeared the dutiful son, shedding crocodile tears. A week after the funeral, the title deeds and keys to his father’s house were handed over to him. With two young children in tow, the Othellos moved their scanty belongings from their hotel room to No. 11, Genggi Heights on a Sunday morning. On entering the driveway of the house, however, they started having serious misgivings. It looked rather seedy, neglected and ghost-like. The elder Othello had lived in rented quarters since the row with his son.
Alvin cautiously approached the entrance. The set of keys was in the envelope but to his horror, he saw a bunch of keys. “Which one was the key to the front door?” he thought annoyingly. The next half an hour saw an increasingly irritable and frustrating time for the couple. Key after key was tried but none could fit the front door. Meanwhile, the kids were running wild in the garden. An angry Alvin decided to call Mr Lawrence, the lawyer. Finally, he managed to locate him. Mr Lawrence did not believe that the keys could not fit. He asked Alvin to try again.
Alvin did try again but in vain. When Mr Lawrence received a phone call from Alvin again, it was to listen to an angry tirade of shouts and curses. “Calm down, Alvin,” Mr Lawrence said. “I’ll come by with an expert locksmith.”
When Mr Lawrence arrived with John, the locksmith, the latter got down to work. After examining the lock mechanism and the keyhole on the door, John said that the keys given would not fit. After another few minutes of examination, John said that the lock required a special brand of keys. This key was out of stock. Even if he could locate the brand of keys, it would take half a day to file them exactly to fit into the lock mechanism. The impatient Othellos conferred briefly and decided to break down the door. Then, an embarrassed Alvin approached Mr Lawrence. “Could you pay for the services of breaking down the door first, Mr Lawrence?” he asked. Mr Lawrence saw that Alvin was down in his finances. Even if he refused this irresponsible couple, the whining, hungry children had to be pitied.
“Let’s go back to town to summon some help and to have lunch,” he kindly suggested. After lunch was over, the party returned to 11, Genggi Heights with some laborers who promptly hacked down the front door. However, when the doors were down, the Othellos were in for a big shock. Big, strong, sturdy metal bars barred the entrance. It looked like the elder Othello was out to play a nasty joke on his son.
The Othellos spent a miserable night at a budget hotel. In the morning, they returned with laborers to prise open and get rid of the bars. However, a more nasty sight greeted the couple. Alvin spied a musty note below the entrance. It read ‘Welcome to your new home. May my spirit haunt this place. This is my revenge for your unfilial conduct. Your departed father.’
With sinking hearts, dismay and anger, the Othellos looked around. What they saw further dismayed them. The walls were blackened, as if from a fire. There were cobwebs, insects and vermin everywhere. Alvin realized with a sinking heart that it would take a fortune for him to restore the place. Even then, it would be difficult to sell it. “The old man really had the last word,” he thought grimly.