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Neighbours what they are; boon or curse is really a big question. If you have a good neighbor it’s like having GOD himself in your society.
I have always been lucky with neighbours until I joined ‘Rajni Society.’ The state agent who gave the place promised me the best facilities available here. From the twenty four hour water supply to meaning of Vaastu-Shasttra in a house, he gave a good scenario of the place. All he could not promise were the neighbours. The secretary of the society,’ Ram babu (Rameshwar Chatterjee) promised any kind of help while settling down. That was a good welcome and good beginning. On 29th June we finally stepped in. The very first day some child broke my window pane with a cricket ball. It pierced the glass and fell in the vase on the table that was placed just a few minutes ago. I too injured my hand while cleaning up the mess. Well! My mother was all set to punish the child but the chap was lucky; she could not see him. My mother was almost in tears; in fact ready for a good fight……..I somehow promised that I will talk to Ram babu about the incident( with a bold voice to make her happy) Ram babu was a nice man. He promised a repair of the loss made. He was polite; so it made no point arguing him. He was always polite. To be truthful after that incident he was so ashamed that he gave us the best help possible. It however had a bad impression on my mother. She thought I argued with the man and he is afraid of my presence. Oh! My mama was so proud of me. All the credit of man’s politeness was poured into my pocket. However, later I understood the difference between politeness and shame. It was Ram babu’s son who broke my pane and ran away. He was all the time thinking that since it was my room, my window pane and top of it I had an injury in my hand due to the ball I surely knew that who did it.
All the stories would have been in dark side if Mrs. Chatterjee (Ram babu’s wife) would not have invited us for lunch at her place. Almost after a week or so of the incident we got a formal invitation from Mrs. Chatterjee. My mother could not make it. Thank god! She had to leave for some official work.

Exactly 1.30pm I reached there. It was all good. She got all the neighbours whom I got introduced to. So many faces together. I even failed to remember them all; except a few. Ladies were interesting than the gentlemen; because all were competing each other. Everyone was wearing exceptional dresses. At that point of time I was still thinking what was the point of wearing such dresses just for a formal get together; that too at your neighbour’s house?

While the next day the party gossip was on. Here I learnt if you ever miss any party never ever miss the next day ‘party gossip. Actually you will learn more about the day without even attending the party. I also learnt how and who broke my window pane. All thanks to our Auntyji; an elderly woman in the society who was all the time trying to spark the light of rebel in my heart. Little did she know, I too was living with a lot of misconceptions.

Walking down little from the society there was a coffee’s shop. I really liked that place; at least you meet sensible people here. Paddy (pradeep) the owner of the shop was one such fine man I have met there. This paddy’s coffee shop serves different kinds of coffee and trust me all of them really taste different. This place is always peaceful; I mean except on Sundays. On Sundays you find the ‘Rajni society’ people here. Ram babu to enlighten us all. It’s more likely to be a lecture you attend in college. You don’t like it …but listen to it.
That day they were discussing people of some other society. As a newcomer, I was thoroughly advised good and bad side of the society. I understand. But is this really important after all?

Third month is on. We are still living in this unusual place. Quite happy; little confused though. That’s fine with me. You get some and you lose some. The door bell rang. Auntyji was at our place. I was listening to her from the next room.. She was leaving the society after a good fight with Ran babu (I don’t when, how and why they fought, I m pretty sure my mother has no clue either.)Anyways she was here warning us that the man (Ram babu) was not a thorough gentleman and it would be better we stayed away from him. Why she was warning us? Well! She really loved us. So nice we are…..polite, gentle, always respected her feelings, treated her good. That’s good compliment for us although I don’t remember we talking to her much.

Everyday there was something or other happening in the society. In the annual social and cultural meet of the society, we gave Auntyji a farewell party. Here Ram babu stood up and gave a lecture on the lady being so good to us all. Her goodness; which I could have never realised without his good and sophisticated words. As he continued we learnt that Auntyji was moving out because her son wished so. I guess he got some job somewhere. Ram babu wished her luck and her son a good future Auntyji was also nicely treating Ram babu. Thanking him for his concern. I wondered where the fight was. Nevertheless life here was a mystery. Everyday new stories, new controversies took over us. We listened to them. Even we got into a controversy that we don’t take part in any society activity. We had to clear it up by making silly excuses. People still have grievances over us. But never mind after five months we are part of it.

Sixth month is on. This is our last month here in Rajni society. This is the month of December. By now I remember everyone’s faces and names very clearly. We have started packing things. Our dear neighbours started gazing at us as we try to pack the things around, silly questions follow up. As for example…..why were we leaving such a nice place? Why don’t we permanently settle down here? Lots of other questions got over us which had a very simple answer……we are moving out because we have to. My mother had completed her training program here for six months and now we had back home….we too received a good bye function and got to know how good we were. As we moved in a taxi I looked the society for the last time. Living there I realised I too talked and thought like them. I was thinking what these people will think about us now. Some would say they moved out because they did not like to attend the society meetings. Some would blame Ram babu; indirectly of course, some would have many sophisticated reasons to explain our moving- out plan. One good thing was the great story maker Auntyji was not there.
Whatever it was dream or nightmare, it was finally over. Now I have good time remembering the whole life there. So I say neighbours are impossible to explain and bear but most important for you; as man is made to live in companies. It’s better to bear them for sometime and remember them in leisure
We are always a neighbour to our neighbours. If they can bear us….then so can we. After all being a neighbour you should learn to compete with your next door dear ones…….that’s what Rajni society taught me. See life is such a good teacher, it makes stories, good or bad but these stories always have morals to understand and follow. So follow the moral of the stories and make new stories; never mind if it includes understanding strange people and befriending them without any other option.

Neighbours they are after all, not ghosts.

Published: 2006-11-29
Author: Debarati Bhattacharyya

About the author or the publisher
I write because i know nothing better than this.i am here because i want to share my writing with everyone.....and i guess i am in the right place.

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