Mrs. Pammi Chopra is our buxom, next door neighbour, with an extremely foul mouth. She, along with her meek husband, Mr. Chopra who has a tiny frame that surprisingly dons a handle bar moustache, their two over boisterous kids; live in the apartment across ours.
Mrs. Chopra’s favourite hobby it seems, is to pick up arguments and fights. It’s been just six weeks they moved in and she has already fired four maids, broken out into expletives with the newspaper guy, almost slapped the plumber who apparently didn’t know his job. She invariably has to lash out at the courier guy, I wonder why!? My husband thinks it’s a character flaw. I give her the benefit of doubt and pass it off as the onset of menopause.
Some evenings when she stands near her door, hollering at her two boys who refuse to listen to her and are running downstairs to play; I want to calm her down by asking her over for a cup of chamomile tea. But the thing is that she is at war with me too. She hates the fact that I have plants in the corridor, outside my door and some days when I water them, the water trickles near their part of the corridor. Though I make sure it is mopped immediately, but if God forbid someday I don’t, hell breaks loose.
Having a cordial relationship with our neighbours, it seems, has now become a distant dream. Those stories of neighbours who stand by you when life has thrown you into the gutter, or who you can depend on for a bowl of sugar; seem make-believe.
Life continues to move at its regular pace. Mrs. Chopra refuses to mend her ways. Sometimes we feel our ear drums will burst, from the Punjabi rap that is belted out early morning from their idiot box.
Six months later:
I’m out watering my plants and suddenly the wind bangs my front door shut. I’m locked out in my ugliest shorts, tattered Tee and flip-flops. I don’t have a back up key. Since I’m also pretty new to the neighbourhood, I don’t know anyone I can ask for a favour. Suddenly Mrs. Chopra’s door swings open, and she looks at me trying to wipe away that scowl that she usually wears. She sees my bewildered look and asks if everything is alright. I tell her about my plight. The only option I have is to drive to my husbands office and get his set of keys, but my car keys are also locked in. Without batting an eyelid, she tells me, “Come with me Mr. S. I’ll take you to Mr. S’s office. We can pick the keys.”
I’m speechless. I have never expected this sort of help from Mrs. Chopra. She is dropping everything to help go get my keys! I clamber into her car, grateful to the core and off we go. We laugh and chat some. As the two of us get talking, I realise Mrs. Chopra is not as harsh, as she comes across. She has a sharp tongue, yes, but a heart that is also kind and generous. Some wars and their pieces need to be put together like jigsaw puzzles, I suppose, to unravel the inner goodness they posses. No wonder one should not judge a book by its cover.
Disclaimer: This is a piece of fiction and resemblance to any person dead or alive is purely coincidental.
This is my fiction entry for the fourth day of #Barathon 2017, the forthnight-long blogging marathon, organised by Blog-A-Rhythm. Today’s prompt is ‘War and Pieces.”