In a city, which roars with activity, day in and day out, one can hardly expect the citizens to remain in close touch with each other. This assumption is a bygone conclusion for apartment dwellers. Urban layouts are cluttered and over-crowded to the extreme and the minds of the inhabitants are often filled with conflicting thoughts, feelings and maladies that make conversations of a personal nature, quite non-existent. Maybe, urban dwellers don’t trust each other as much as their rural counterparts. Of course, it has never been human nature to realise that one must be a good neighbour to deserve a good one.
In a few clustered apartments that we are discussing about – all kinds of people lived: the lecherous and the dignified, the young and the old, the rich, the middle class and even the poor, who had once upon been rich enough to buy an apartment but now not rich enough to maintain one, the tall and the short, the active, the passive, heroes and villains, blessed women, cursed women with a treacherous nature, the munificent and the selfish, the ones who prayed, the agnostics and the atheists, there were many in that block of apartments. The rich in the apartment would not display their wealth – in the fear that they would be deprived of it or that an evil eye would be cast upon them. The poor would pretend to be rich. The happiest people in the apartment were the ones belonging to the middle class, who could aspire to be rich in the future and pretend to be rich, now. The teenagers and twenty some things were not as happy as they would wish to be, struck as they were, by the disturbing realities of life. The television was like a God for the folk, who lived there.
Now, there were two security guards, who took care of the apartment. The younger of the two, took care of the apartment during the day. The elder man took care of them during the night (though of course, he slept for the larger duration of the night!). The common binding factor between the two was that both of them were poor and less educated. The young man was an impudent fellow whereas the elder man was the very epitome of grace and suppressed sufferings.
Till over five months earlier – from the time that we are discussing about, the young watchman had been able to enjoy the company of his only four year old child, who had been the apple of her father’s eye. She had been an angel with her playful mannerisms and cuteness. It was then that fate struck a cruel blow on the young man, when his only daughter vanished into the cosmic infinity. The young man was beyond any consolation and no one dared to go near him lest the man would let loose upon the world, unwanted acrimonious talk.
The elder watchman was a new arrival to the compound. He was a simple man hailing from a small town in rural India, who had come to the city to provide treatment to his young son, who had been caught by the vicious hands of peer pressure, which had taught the boy certain wrong ways of living, which included the habit of injecting narcotic drugs into his tender body. The poor father lost his fortune by paying for the boy’s treatment but the treatment was in vain because the boy soon escaped from the hospital and soon turned back to his shameful ways. It was then that the father had found employment, here. It had been five months since the boy had disappeared. Time could not heal the wounds of the two friends. However the two watchmen friends had never revealed their troubles to each other.
Around the same time, the apartment witnessed the arrival of a winsome young child – very sweet to look at with a divine visage. She had a doting family, which loved showcasing their child, every now and then to the other inhabitants of the place. The child would trouble her mother, a great deal, each day before allowing her mother to feed her. The antics of the child pleased everyone. The mother of the child would allow the two watchmen to play with her child. She would never know how much her goodness had helped them. The young watchman would chase the child, displaying false anger and would indulge in many friendly games with the child. The young watchman would feel happy listening to the happy chatter of the child. At other times, the child would seize the older man’s hand and call him, ‘grandfather'. Her touch was a child’s touch – devoid of the wickedness that often seizes the adult frame. The joy that the child provided compensated for the loss of cheers in the lives of the two men – something, which would have been impossible, otherwise.
Maybe, it is small incidents like these that confirm the existence of God – that there is a sense of strange ironic justice that prevails and which reaches those people, who need them the most!