When we moved to the new home a couple of months ago, I thought that I would be able to gel up with a lot of people. For the last many years we (husband and I) have been living in a condominium. And a condominium life sucks. Well, not every time. But the place where we lived before our current house was kinda boring. No one knew who lived next to whom. Not that it’s NOT common. That’s how a condominium life is. But when we decided to move to an independent house, I was excited more than usual. Because I would have more space, I would shift closer to friends, and especially because I would have a sense of community living here.
When we shifted, it was almost spring. Though there were days when it would snow. And knowing myself who feels extreme cold in normal weather too, I would say it was winters for me. Does not matter what they decided to call it, spring or summer whatever! So, in the initial months, I would rarely see anyone. But I would hope that very soon the neighborhood would turn green. That I would see lovely faces and we would walk and talk. Honestly, all I had in my mind was an image of a wonderful neighborhood. However, it was different. Not that my neighborhood is not good, but then! You see similar faces every day. They will look at you, smile at you and very very rarely it would go ahead to a formal chhit-chat. In the house right to ours, there lives a big family. I haven’t seen them all together, though I know they are six in count and they rarely strike a conversation. I would label them as shy, very shy yet very sweet people. The conversation here would mostly end at ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘How are you doing?’
In the house left to us lives a couple. An elderly couple. They appeared more friendly and weren’t that shy. There was a comfort level, more because we could speak the same language. Uncle would give us lots of advice on how to do gardening and other stuff. Since this is our first experience living in an independent house, there is always so much we are unaware of. Like where do we keep our plants in the winters, which nursery is the nearest, where to buy a good snow shovel from. Uncle was ready to guide. Our conversations were not very frequent but most of the time it would go beyond ‘Hii’, and ‘Hello’.
Once my husband and I were worried about why our plants were dying even though we would water them so regularly. I remember my husband was watering the plants and I was standing there discussing the same. I guess Uncle overheard our conversation therefore, he interrupted , ‘Summers are bad. Especially the summers of May and June. During these months when the sun is burning the world with its heat, it’s pretty hard for the plants to survive without water.’
‘But I am watering them every day!’, my husband said.
‘Twice. You have to water them twice. Have you seen the grass at your end? I think you need to water them too. Twice every day’, he suggested.
The other day, I saw her wife walking in the park. It was morning 6:00 am and I was up for running. Our eyes met, we smiled at each other, and then she joined me when she talked about her family. Apparently, the couple lives alone while the daughters who are married, live a couple of hours away.
I had finally found a neighbor whom I could actually call a neighbor. That was now more than just a familiar face. A couple of days ago I said to my husband, ‘This Diwali festival let’s ask them to visit our home. We can invite them for an evening snack or dinner.’
We had agreed to this, but then something happened that almost broke our hearts yesterday.
So, a few days ago, our neighbors were busy with the painting of the house. I said to my husband, ‘Why are they getting the gates painted? I somehow feel that they are getting it ready to sell the house.’
‘Oh no, I don’t think so! Uncle is always busy doing some modification in the house!’, my husband was confident that his heart would remain in place always.
However, today we saw the board for registering the house on sale.
‘Coming soon! For sale!’
That moment nothing broke our heart more than the board.
We felt dejected. A feeling of betrayal flooded our bodies.
Of course, it does not make sense. Why should we feel bad about it? We are neither their relatives nor friends. But how can you make your heart understand who always makes plan and love to remain in the world of dreams? Dream of finding a family-like neighbor. Yesterday when we were outside, we saw Uncle returning from somewhere. He smiled looking at us when my husband went ahead to talk to him.
‘Oh! You are selling this house!’
‘Yes! Our kids live in Caledon and my wife and I are planning to buy a house near to them. We have grandkids and we want to see them as often as we can. Staying near to them would make things easier for them and for us too.’
While that made sense on Uncle’s behalf, we are still very sad. We can see them busy with house hunting, we can see how they are sorting things and throwing the unwanted stuff out of their house. In between our eyes meet, and we smile at each other.
But our eyes have a different story to tell now.
Story of uncertainty and anxiety about who would be our new neighbor.
Though we label ourselves as optimistic people, I will miss them being around. And for unknowingly giving us the feeling of having a warm neighborhood.
Thank you, Mrs. & Mr. Silva!
You guys will be missed!