My Neighbours

A first person account from a youth who loves life and makes friends with death:

I found the most suitable place to set up my first business when I was fresh out of college. I went to the municipal office for a license to run a commercial establishment. The officer seemed polite, but he cautioned me "if the neighbours object I will not be able to issue a certificate to you." He wondered if I had gone mad, because I had burst out laughing. Keeping him in suspense, I convinced him to get on my motorbike and see the place. One look, and he knew what the joke was. The shop I had selected had a barren road in front, and a graveyard on the other three sides!

Many people wondered at my choices of location. They were even more scandalized when they learnt that I intended to live in that place too. Some thought that I have gone off my rocker, others wondered whether I am into voodoo. But I look back upon those years with tremendous nostalgia. My "neighbours" did not complain even once of my activities.

As the shadows lengthened and the cool summer breeze came dancing from the South-West, I would start winding up my work. Before the nearby mobile tea stall person closed shop, he would always remember to send me the last cup of tea. Pulling down the rolling shutter, I would stroll around, walk up to the small restaurant to have a light dinner, and return after darkness has set in.

The deserted road became even more deserted. People avoided it and preferred longer routes. Those who were forced to reveal on it after dark them. The only person who would stroll down leisurely was yours truly.

Returning "home", I would walk into the middle of the graveyard. The tombstone had long become familiar to me. Some of them had names inscribed on them, and I would greet them as one greets neighbours on one's evening walk. Finding a nicely polished and comfortable tomb, I would sit down to contemplate on life. Ironic though it may sound, I could think so much about life, surrounded entirely by death.

Sometimes there would be a small procession quietly bringing in a not-too-popular dead body in the unearthly hours. Every living being in the group would be in a hurry yo get over the ritual and escape. If they saw me sitting quietly in the eerie darkness, they would keep an eye to make sure I was not a vampire or a Dracula. After they left, I would walk across to the freshly filled earth mould, and share a quiet moment with the newly interred inmate, welcoming him in my own way.

There were beautiful moonlit nights when I would spend longer hours outdoors. People walking on the road far away would see me strolling criss-cross among the graves, and would double their pace to get out from there. But only I know the serene beauty, the harmony with nature, and the blanket of peace that descended on the area, when the entire stretch of flatland would shimmer in the silver of the moonlight. Many a time even a drizzle would not make me move, for the earth would entice me with a magnificent smell of dry mud hungrily absorbing the first rain drops.

My working life began amidst death. I did well in life and moved on, physically and figuratively. But my heart remains there. And before leaving I have left all my friends with a parting promise- that I shall return one day to depart no more.

This website was initially conceived and designed by the late Sitaram N
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