05 June, 2009

Neighbours - Part 1

One of my colleagues had put his house on sale few years back. On casually having a chat, I learnt he had horrible neighbours which forced him to sell his house and move to a new locality. I have never had this problem since my younger days.

Few months before, I contacted one of my ex-neighbour who lives far away in India, and talked to everyone in their family. It was nostalgic. I plunged into more sorrow when I heard the plight of my other neighbours. Two of my ex-neighbours are no more. I heard both of them passed away recently. I felt very sad for the next few days.

Mrs.Savithri was a very hard working lady. I remember seeing her working always. After sending off her husband and daughter she used to indulge in cleaning her garden. She had a liking towards trees. She never liked cutting down any branches of her trees. She had two neem trees in front of their house. She had a very huge Badam tree in between our houses. She had many more trees at her back yard. It was a great sight to watch her sweeping all the dry leaves and cleaning her garden. I grew up in observing the way she used to water her garden. Once she finishes her gardening, she used to do shopping on her own and return. She was so helpful and I remember my mom leaving me under her care whenever she went out for shopping. I still remember the way she used to compliment my mom for bringing me up well. Once when I grew up as a young boy, she hesitated to talk to me. It is a typical nature of ladies from country side. She always had respect for the way I was brought up and I found it many times.

Once I was involved in an accident, and when one of my colleagues when to convey it to her, I was told that she was in tears. After all she had seen me growing up from childhood, and could not bear the sad news. It seems she was very much relieved on hearing nothing untoward had happened to me. There had been days when she was upset with us. We sometimes earned her anger when we requested to cut few branches of her trees which were protruding into our house and causing hindrance for growth of small plants in our house. She loved her trees so much and she never liked to cut the branches. I appreciate her thought. She was not well educated. But I recollect her love towards pets and trees. Few years before when I made a visit to India, she proudly introduced me to people who currently live in our old house. She took me around and showed me all her trees. She had gone down a lot and when I enquired about her health she did not respond. We had a chat for few minutes and her husband also joined in our conversation. I still remember the smile on their faces when we talked about our old days. She was a lovely lady who really cared for nature and animals.

I still remember the day when her husband retired. He was very sad on his retirement day. I was in my early 20’s. I went to their house and consoled him. He felt very emotional and was almost on tears. I gave lecture like an old and wise man. They liked it and they both listened to me. The next day she told my mom that my matured talk refreshed their mind and gave more confidence to both of them.

She always brought in some hot news that happened in the town. She was very religious and had pictures of all the Hindu gods, well framed and hanged on the walls. She worshipped them for few hours every day.

She did not like hurting even snakes. Since our house was on a country side, we used to see lots of snakes. She was familiar with different types of snakes, and my mom used to seek her help in identifying snakes. I wanted to kill poisonous snakes, and she prevented me from killing them, and taught me at my young age not to kill snakes. She told us that snakes are harmless, and will never cause any harm unless they felt danger for their life.

I still remember her usual conversations with my mom, held while standing between the fences of our houses. The last time I visited her, she told me that she did not want to move towards the city. I know that she loved her trees and nature. I am glad at least that she lived in a place which she loved so much until her last breath. I was told that her husband is being persuaded by their daughter to move to their home in City and he is reluctant to do so. I know his mind.

They both were a lovely couple.

They were one of my good neighbours.


Kavi said...

i dont know where this place is. But i can tell you, big city, holed out living in apartment complexes neither has this warmth nor the trees !

Having said that, it depends on the people there to strike out a relationship and go around interacting.

We live in an apartment. We dont know who lives the next door on the left. But on the right, we have a decent equation. We atleast talk ! :)

The situation is so very different in smaller complexes. Smaller cities. And ofcourse, semi-urban, rural hinterland.

Where there is abundance. And everyone knows every other one ! And sometimes it is the reflection that you have, that can take us back tothe many years that we connected with people. And just made our individual spaces so much better !

So much so ! Lovely post.

Balaji S Rajan said...


This was suburbs in Chennai. Those were wonderful days. Everyone in the street lived like a community. Even today when I visit them and walk on the road, people recognise and relish old good memories. The whole community lived like a family.

I do agree that in present world and that too in Cities, these things are fast changing. I shall mention about some experience in my next post.

ambi said...

Completely agree with you balaji, In villages, not only our neighbours, entire village pple itself can identify us, when you visit them even after a long time. They will recall so-and-so's son or Grandson. :))

This apartment life is really a hell. :(

Thanks for the post.
Visiting here after a long time, also read your prev post too.

rummuser said...

A very poignant post and made me nostalgic for your hometown, which used to be mine till I became a veliyerina Paappaan.

I now live in Pune and have just experienced some wonderful neighborliness which I had never expected. When my wife passed away, my neighbors just took charge of everything and made the difficult time pass relatively smoothly and continue to mother me in my current status.

No matter where you live, if you are a good neighbor, you will get good neighbors and if you are not, you will not. In your friend's present case, there may well have been some issues which may not have been obvious, but these things happen too.

Swatantra said...

A very touching post!! Your writing is as true as the thoughts!! I loved reading it!!

Jeevan said...

Glad knowing about such a neighbor and its hard to see people like her being cared about neighbors, trees and any lives. I could easily recollect the moments we all neighbors get together in evening at one of our gateways to chat anything, and the relationships are like relations. Later it tuned to exchange between balconies. But being in apartment now, the doors are always closed and people only come forward in their need.

I wish long live the country sides and do change our apartment lives.