Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Neighbourhood

It's forty minutes past seven. As usual, I am late for my bus to office, and I'm hurrying along with my laptop bag flapping behind me and my long silver house key still in my hand. It's a straight road downhill to the bus stop. On the way, dignified old paatis with silver hair stare at me in wonder. Every day they see me, a strange young girl with long hair streaming backwards in the wind, fast-walking down the road.

On both sides of the road are single- and double-storeyed houses. I like them because - well, they're not flats, they're actual houses with histories and personalities. Most of these houses have at least one tree growing in their tiny front yard,  and these trees generously spread their shadow onto the road. The entire neighbourhood becomes quite dark at night  - the trees reduce the orange streetlights to tiny little pools on the dark road. And when it rains, I  never need an umbrella, except to ward off the wet leaves that float down with the wind and stick to my hair.

My house has a tall jackfruit tree that has no jackfruits. Just outside, the first sight I see in the morning after I bolt the tiny black side gate behind me, is a tree with yellow and red flowers - I don't know its name. And on the way to the bus stop, there is a jasmine plant, the whole of its foliage covered in white. It's beautiful, a dark green round canopy dotted with white stars. I always stare at it with longing, because it reminds me of home.

Mornings and evenings, there are exercise-freaks walking busily around the neighbourhood. I see them in the mornings and wish I had the time to be like them. I see them in the evenings when I'm dragging myself home uphill with the heavy laptop on my back, and wonder at their energy.

In the evenings, you can see young moms walking along with babies on strollers; kids playing badminton in the middle of the street; old gentlemen in groups walking and laughing together; dignified old couples, the lady with her pallu pulled demurely over her shoulder, the gentleman with slow steps and a walking stick.

Every time  I see them, especially the elderly people, I feel like a trespasser. They've been living their lives here in this neighbourhood for years, knowing their neighbours and their neighbours' neighbours, and I have brashly intruded into their colony and their lives. I don't know them, I don't even wish to know them. The reason I'm here is that I like the security they give me, I like the fact that I have this tiny island to remind me of home while I try to find my way in this vast ocean of adulthood.

Sometimes I can almost understand why they want to kick us out.

• • •


naween said...

jasmine tree reminding you of home.. hmmm...

maybe they want to kick you out coz they can't stand not being like you :P

Jade said...

Heh! That's a good thought! :)

Bland Spice said...


I wonder if I have ever commented here but I have followed your blog off and on for a couple of years.

Your writing has matured a lot. There are so many things you say that I have said to myself some time.

You have it in you to be a writer tho' there is some distance to cover.

Wherever you go, you're always an outsider. Delhi, XL, Bangalore colonies. So was and am I.

Talk to them - the distance is in you many of the times.