Neighbours. What do we think of them? If you were mom and you saw a neighbour passing by- you'd say "Aa ja! Chai peeyegi?" and spend the rest of the evening chatting merrily. If you were dad in the same situation- you'd step out of the house and talk for 5-10 minutes about the re-making of the society road or the stock market. If you were ME in the same situation however-you'd either blatantly ignore your neighbour, or give him a nod of acknowledgement- or maybe a wee smile saying you know him- and it passes. Yes folks-I'm a sinister woman who's been MEAN to her neighbour. I admit it.
It started 4 years back. When I shifted from my old home to my current- I didn't even know what owning a row-house meant. When I got here- I saw that technically it was one big bungalow divided into two- one half is yours- the other your neighbour's. One fine evening- Mom and I went to meet them. Well-perfectly NORMAL evening for all those dramatists out there expecting a storm or some other harbinger of doom! The door was answered by a sweet Parsi Lady who looked like she always had a smile plastered on her face. I swear I'll NEVER forget Aunty's smile. And yeah- behind her was her fair, same height as me, full of baby fat son. That was 8th man- we played merrily together for 2 years after that- be it football, chor police- ANYTHING.
10th- we hardly spoke much- even if we did- it was through the net.
Me and Mom in backyard. We hear an AMAZING OUT OF THE WORLD howling. Me: Have the wolves started rounding up on us??
LOONELY!!! I'M MISTER LOONELY!! I HAVE NOBODY.....
Mom: It's your sweet neighbour... HELLO!?
(He pops his head out) He: Yes Aunty?
Mom: You sing.... very well!!
He: (clearly pleased) THANKS AUNTY!
(goes back and continues) I rolled my eyes.
Sarcasm clearly dripped off him.
Thereafter we were subjected to concert after concert of his expert bathroom singing.(row houses have common ducts...) which was- annoying- yet entertaining!
Then it happened. Aunty fell ill. Her foot had been cancerous-so they had gotten her leg amputated- and she had been living on a plastic foot. Suddenly the cancer had begun to spread again. She was hospitalised, put on chemo, and my parents went to visit her often. I then realised that- I had never given my neighbours a second thought. Taken them for granted. I began to think of her every day and night, and even though I'm not religious, prayed piously for her daily. That's when it hit me- the awkward shy bathroom singer boy that I had for a neighbour- was actually THE BRAVEST PERSON I HAD EVER MET.
Mom told me how he had to bathe his mother sometimes. How he cookes anda burji for him and his brother. (which I am thoroughly INCAPABLE of without major threat to myself and my surroundings...) Thinking of this now makes my hair stand on end.
And then she just.... died.
We didn't speak at all. Maybe I didn't know how to break the ice- and neither did he. Whatever be the reason- it still is like that. His younger brother was affected severely- as he began failing in school. As for the older however- we were in 10th- he tried his hardest to give the Board his best shot- and got 78. I think he's a genius. I personally- would have failed.
11th- he went to boarding. It's funny how you hate things when you have them- and miss them as soon as they're taken away. One thing I know- I would never have been able to say this to his face. I am feeling MUCH better after writing this.... I guess that's what blogs are for huh? :) :)