She was the one you could go to…when you wanted to pick a fight with your neighbour without actually starting it yourself. A few well aimed barbs, whispered in her ear, and then, you just had to wait 10 minutes…it took just that long for your message to be delivered.
She was the one who came to tell you that your car had been stolen…just after you’d waved goodbye to the thief. Because you were so busy sitting in your balcony, having a good laugh with your family, that you thought a relative was waving to you and driving your car away.
She was the one who knew who visited whom, and what their business was. She had a job and she did it very enthusiastically, even though she was not paid a salary – “Keeping an eye on everyone around”.. mainly because, deep down inside, she cared.
And she kept us all safe. Because everyone knew there was always someone watching.
She was sometimes a nuisance, because she reported every minor transgression…Parents humoured her, and then had a good laugh when she left. They valued her, because she helped them keep track of what her kids were upto.
She’s got lost somehow, in the busy busy world of today, and I miss her.
Footnote : Some of my readers have asked who she is… I’ve used a lot of artistic license, here, to make a point.
She’s a little bit of you and a little bit of me – she’s the way we all used to be. We used to be friends with our neighbours, get in each other’s faces, rub each other up the wrong way, but when it counted, we all of us, were there for each other.
Mumbai’s changed so drastically…. and we’ve lost some of the good that we had.