So back again with the third edition of five day ‘LOL-a-thon’ organised by ‘The Momsteins’ that I am part of. Join us to read some wonderful letters written by 26 cool bloggers. Stay around to read some amazing letters coming up.
Today’s prompt is letter to a friend/neighbour/etc and I like to take this opportunity to write one to an old neighbour of mine in my parental home.
Heard from my mom that you are moving from our “para” (Mohalla/community). It could be an end of an era when you do that. There are so many memories that we have shared while growing up, and they all come back to me as I write this letter. The “para” won’t be same once you move out; who is going to keep an eye on the young girls and boys from the veranda when you are gone? I remember how you used to quiz me each time I passed your balcony while going out of the house; like where I was going, if I was going with someone, etc etc. Not only me, you even kept an alert eye on my mother noting how many time she had gone out in that week and even how many times she was wearing salwar kameez instead of a saree!! The neighbourhood will be less fashionable now that you won’t be there to check on the attire of the women and girls of the area.
There was a time when a visit to your house was enough to get the updates on everyone’s life in our area; in fact, you were Facebook and WhatsApp when their creators were not even born!! You somehow knew how much marks the boy from Dutta household had got in his class 10 exam or whom the Sen family girl was seeing slyly from the terrace. You could smell when the Roy family was having a party (with alcohol!!) and when a boy’s family was coming to see the girl in Mukherjee family. It was through you we came to know when the first colour television came to our para (such a big thing in the 80’s) and which family was first to get a refrigerator.
Such memories!! At that time, we resented your questioning. In fact, mom and I named you checkpoint Charlie after the famous checkpoint between erstwhile East and West Berlin. I remember how I used to peep from home to check if you were there in your balcony or not and then slip away from your eager eyes. We especially hated you when you told our parents how we have been picking up the ball from the drains while playing gully cricket or who exactly broke the window in Chaterjee babu’s house. Nothing escaped your eyes except when your own daughter gave you the slip and ran away with her lover. I guess charity did not began at home for you; you were so dedicated to keep an eye on the “para” that you neglected to keep one on your daughter.
But you had your uses too. I remember how you made sure visitors to my home knew we were not there and that we knew they had come. My mom often used to keep the keys with you if she had to go away when we were not back. And how can I forget you alerted us every time our naughty puppy ran away from home!!
Most importantly, you made the “para” feel like home. Even when I was married and settled in another city, seeing your face as I entered our lane made me feel that I was back home. A talk with you meant I knew all about my old friends and neighbours. To be frank, we now live in such societies where I don’t know who lives in my flat or complex. You are the glorious remnant of the quintessential North Kolkata Para culture; where neighbours celebrated even the smallest happiness together. Where problems in one house became the reason of sadness in another. That feeling of shared childhood is something my children are missing while growing up amidst video games and cable television. So dearest Aunty, wherever you go, don’t stop sitting on the balcony and watching the new generation of children and youngsters go about their life. Someone needs to keep an eye on them!!
With lots of love,
The girl from two houses down the lane
Before I leave, I like to introduce Neha Gupta Mittal. Please read her most heartfelt letter to her neighbour here. And thank Shruti for introducing me. Read her lovely letter to her best friend here.