During one of my stints in Indore, I was staying in a rented house on the ground floor, while a lady tenant, Mrs Chakraborty was on the first floor. She was working in an insurance company and was staying with her two kids, while her husband was in Bhopal, working for a private firm, and staying with his old parents.
She used to keep herself aloof, and never wanted to mingle with anybody. She used to go office on her scooty and come back as a routine. Similarly, both kids would go to their school on their bicycles and come back, but would not talk to anyone including our kids. They were happy with the way they lived.
I used to park my car in the corridor, that was also used by them for parking their scooty and bicycles, and also as a passage to go to the first floor. While passing through, kids knowingly or unknowingly would bump their bicycles into my car rendering it full of scratches. They used to retort, when asked to be careful. The relations then got further strained.
After sometime her husband along with his old parents also landed to stay there, after renting out the parental house at Bhopal. He had lost his job in Bhopal, and started finding a job in Indore. But he also maintained the same stance, his wife and kids had.
The parents had been shifted first time out of Bhopal, and they didn’t know anyone from Indore. Their son and daughter-in-law were already cut off from the rest of the world. They simply used to stare from the balcony.
After 3 or 4 months, his father expired, and their kids started crying. None of them informed us of his demise. On being prodded by my wife, I went upstairs to see what had happened.
All of them were near the body on the floor, sobbing and crying. Their main concern, however, was how to go about the last rites in accordance with Bengali traditions. I consoled them and specifically went to his mother, and asked her to treat me as one of her sons.
I took leave from my office and requested one of my fast friends, Biswas, to take leave from work and come immediately to my house. He was well acquainted with the office bearers of Indore Bengali Club. He managed to call a priest and some of his Bengali colleagues from there as also from his office.
While going to cremation ground, hardly 15 persons were there. I still remember the comment made at that time by one of my colleagues that the day would come when our children would simply call a number to take care of all these conventions. This is coming true also.
After the rituals were over, we extended all help that we could. There was a complete turnaround in their attitudes. They started coming to our place. We also responded positively. A relationship developed that continued even after our leaving that rented house.