Dubai: An Indian family of four, who were well off not so long ago, is out on the street after they were evicted from their rented apartment on Sunday.
Unable to pay the rent over the last 18 months, the family, which includes a terminally ill mother of two teenage boys, is living in the lobby of the building that they have called home since 2006.
After a long struggle to keep the two-bedroom apartment in Bur Dubai, the family was forced to move out following an eviction notice from the court.
“They just came and asked us to leave. We begged them to give us a couple of days to pack our belongings and find another place but they would not listen. We grabbed whatever we could from the flat and moved out.
"Since we had no place to keep the goods, we gave away the furniture and home appliances to furniture movers and some of the goods we have managed to store temporarily in a warehouse,” said Shree, the ailing mother of two.
The family has since spent the last two nights at a friend’s place, while they desperately look for accommodation during the day.
“We are looking for any small room or apartment that we can get, but so far we haven’t been successful. The watchman has helped us in keeping some of the items in his room and we are in the lobby most of the time,” said B., the head of the family.
But life was not always the same for the Mangalorean family, who have lived in Dubai since 1993. Their fortunes changed dramatically when the head of the family lost a high-profile job due to the economic downturn and since then a multitude of problems have cropped up, forcing the family to the brink.
Once a senior executive, the father is jobless and helpless now, struggling to make ends meet. He has been surviving on the small earnings from odd jobs as well as help from a few friends, which have also dried up now.
“The apartment where we lived since 2006 was paid for by my Japanese employer, but when the company closed down I continued to live in the same flat and somehow managed to pay the rent. After losing the job, I couldn’t get a similar job. So, I started a consultancy and we could barely manage, but things never looked up,” said the father of two.
Illness befalls family
And as so often happens, their problems multiplied. Shree fell ill with a mysterious condition, which was later diagnosed as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease.
“To be honest we have got a lot of help from friends and relatives. I have struggled through jobs and businesses but when my wife fell ill matters became worse. For some time no doctor could diagnose her medical condition and then somebody referred us to Dr Babu Sherzad, who diagnosed it to be SLE. We are grateful to the doctor for his help and free consultation but the medicines are too expensive for us to afford,” said the husband.
Apart from expensive medicines, Shree’s condition requires her not to eat out.
“I can’t eat salt, spices or sugar. Neither can I eat rice or wheat. I have to survive on fruits and a special diet of vegetables, which I can’t manage living in a lobby,” said Shree.
Apart from his wife’s health, B.S.’ other main concern is the education of his sons, who are in grade 12 and grade 9. He can’t send them back home.
“Due to my wife’s medical condition I can’t send her back home, but I am also concerned about my children’s education which I can’t afford here. Even if I want to send the boys to India for their education, I can’t because their visas expired last May and I don’t want to send them on an outpass as they won’t be able to come back,” said the worried father.
The former administration manager of Kinden Corporation owes Dh150,000 in unpaid rent as well as Dh90,000 in bank loans. He feels a decent job can help him solve his multiple problems.