Once Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said, “We can change our friends, but not our neighbours.” What he meant was that the national neighbours were geographically compelled to live in the neighbourhood. Thus, India has to live with countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal etc. as her neighbours. Even if Pakistan is perennially hostile to India, the latter has to live in its neighbourhood. There is no other choice for India.
However, as far as we talk about neighbours on the individual human basis, sometimes our neighbours can leave and go somewhere else or we ourselves can change our living place. But that does not happen frequently and if it happens, it often happens because of some necessity or circumstances. Generally, the two neighbours who are the owners of the homes in which they live, do not change their houses except rarely. Only those who live in rented houses may change their residence occasionally.
I have a paternal house in which I live. I have never thought of the idea of ever disposing of it. Such an idea is rather abhorring to me and to all members of my family.
Positive and negative qualities of one neighbour
I am both fortunate and unfortunate in having my neighbours. They are on both sides of my house – people of mixed qualities, that is, positive and negative qualities.
On the right side of my house, the Garchas have been living for the last about five years. Actually, they have purchased the house from Mr. Sunil Juneja who has built his new house in another colony.
The Garchas are good people on the whole, though some of their qualities may not be considered upto the mark.
Let us first consider their negative qualities. They keep their T.V. set on a high pitch and that too till late at night and wouldn’t listen to any requests to lower the pitch even if it is reported to them that little children have to prepare their lessons for the fast-approaching examinations. It is probably because they themselves have a long-standing business concern handed down to them by their ancestors and they cannot understand the plight of self-made people who are still striving to stand on their own legs in this hard competitive world.
Another negative quality of the Garchas is their excessive love of their dog, Ceasar, which barks so loudly that infants in several houses begin to cry. But they say bluntly that their barking dog cannot understand human language and so they cannot change its habit. As for beating their barking dog, they would rather like to beat the complainant but not the dog.
Another habit of the Garchas is to park their car and scooter in the middle of the street, such that it becomes difficult for any other vehicle to pass through the street.
Still, a strange habit of the Garchas is to go into peals of a laugh any pretext and have some rowdy parties in their house where the young people keep dancing and singing to the earpiercing tunes of a deck till late at night, and this usually happens on Sundays.
Now, let us consider the positive points of the Garchas. In spite of having such a rough surface, the Garchas have a heart of gold. Last year my father had a severe heart attack at midnight. The Garchas were still watching their T.V. As soon as I phoned them, they not only switched off their T.V. set immediately, but the whole family of them rushed to our house. They took my father in their own car to the nearest nursing home and immediately handed us ten thousand rupees for instant treatment.
The Garchas are not only highly generous and very considerate people but very courageous also. A few days back, a house on our street caught fire. A little child was left behind. The eldest son of Mr. Garcha at once jumped into the burning house and brought out the child safe and sound through his own body was badly scorched.
Qualities of the second neighbour
On the left side of our house, we have the Bhandaris, an issueless couple. They are both government employees. They love me and my brother like their own children. On Sundays Mrs Bhandari herself washes me and combs my hair. Sometimes, she compels me to take my breakfast with her. She so often gives me dolls and teddy bears and kites to my brother.
Whenever the Bhandari go for an outing, often they take me and my brother with them.
A person having good neighbours actually lives in heaven on earth; otherwise in hell.
I am proud of my neighbours on both sides of my house and thankful to God for so good neighbours. It is rightly said that this earth itself is a heaven for the person who has good neighbours, otherwise, it is a hell for him. Fortunately, I have the feeling of being in heaven even while being on earth.