The other day, I went to inquire the widow of a military officer in our colony, but was greeted by a locked door. I asked one of her neighbors about her whereabouts and whether she expected to return soon, but she seemed indifferent. He shrugged off the question with Laconic, “Hame Patta Nahi (We don’t know).
Their reaction is not surprising as most people these days are indifferent to the plight of their neighbors. They abhor talking to their next-door neighbors, letting them help in their time of need. Those who live in high-rise towers and apartments don’t bother to get acquainted with those who live just a stone’s throw away. But, in the village where I was born and raised, the neighbors looked after each other and shared the joys and sorrows of each other.
The Army is also a well-organized organization with a unit to replace one’s family. When I hung up my army shoes, my wife and I decided not to retire from life. We moved to our home in Defense Colony, Ambala Cantt and developed a good relationship with our neighbors.
We share our home-grown vegetables and fruits with them and send homemade halwa and kheer during the festivities. Whenever we cross each other happiness or waves are exchanged. After all, most of us are in our second innings and have left the rat race behind.
On our 41st anniversary, my wife and I decided to add our neighbors to the celebration. We sent each neighbor’s home a small gift, a healthy breakfast cereal, with a personal handwritten note. We hand-delivered gifts to 15 neighbors. This was done without any expectation, but the love we received on our anniversary day engulfed us. Everyone called us to wish and many veterans came to our house with thoughtfully chosen gifts. Even a retired brigadier sent us home-cooked dinner! When our daughter sent us a cake, our son sent us a bouquet of chocolates.
Not forgetting our staff and service providers, who also received gifts. One of them went upstairs and took part Chabil In this case, travelers who were tired of the burning heat were served sweet milk and Ruhafza. Our wedding anniversary was a humbling experience to be surrounded by people living around us.
Thanks to our neighbors, we as veterans do not experience loneliness or bitterness, as we live in a climate of bonhomie. The smartphone, our portal to the virtual world, takes the back seat to our friends, neighbors and children. Life is simple and beautiful if we do it.
(The authors are independent contributors based in Ambala. The views expressed are personal.).