Avni valued her privacy and hated nosy neighbors. Why couldn’t they just mind their own business? Do they have to ask all their intrusive questions every single time they met her? Sigh! She shouldn’t have moved into this large community. An apartment might have been nicer. It seems like the Great Indian Family out here. Everyone thinks every one else’s life is their concern.
Avni had only recently moved into her own home with her husband and toddler son. The gated community was still seeing residents move on. Some of the homes were in various stages of construction and occupancy was still just about 50%. Yet, she had neighbors on all the sides. Most of them were these homemakers who would gather to gossip with each other as soon as their husbands left for work. Looks like they had no other work all day long except chat with each other or watch their silly soaps on TV. What did they understand the life of a working woman like her? She felt no connection with them. She prayed every single day that they would not catch her to do small talk as she left for work while their eyes hovered all over her body. She hated their appraising looks.
It was evening. She was languishing behind as her son, Anil, cycled on the road near her house. Suddenly he fell down the bike. Children fell all the time! She was a little distance away when suddenly a few ladies ran to her son. They lifted his howling form from the road. He had fallen on his face and was bleeding. His eyebrow was a mess! Seeing so much blood shocked Avni. She suddenly felt dizzy and panicky.
A hospital was some 4 kms. away, and her husband had taken their car. She would have to rush and get an auto and take him to hospital immediately. While she was dialing her husband in panic, her next door neighbor, Sulekha, came swiftly towards her. She offered to drive Avni and Anil to the hospital. Avni gratefully accepted the offer. Sulekha took them to the Emergency Room where a doctor attended to Anil who was by now delirious with pain. He was given medication and needed multiple stitches on his eye brow. Sulekha was there with them all the while, quiet and supportive. The whimpering child could finally be taken home with his medications and other precautions detailed by the doctor.
Avni’s husband, Suresh, took quite a while to reach home as he was caught in the peak evening traffic. By that time, Avni and Anil were home. The crisis had blown over. Their dinner was on the dining table helpfully supplied by other neighbors. Everyone had spurred into action to help her despite her moody and aloof behavior with them all along.
The Great Indian family, indeed! She smiled to herself.