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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Regional Takes

Neighbourhood Spiderman
Praveen Singh
February 08, 2013
First Published: 10:33 IST(8/2/2013)
Last Updated: 12:05 IST(8/2/2013)

The police uniform can trigger a gamut of emotions, depending on the person and situation. It could spell fear, respect, curiosity, authority or even security. However, it certainly evokes a mixed reaction when a police officer starts visiting a house in the neighbourhood regularly.


The first visit itself is enough to raise eyebrows of a few neighbours, though only an inquisitive female member can muster the courage to ask the host about the reason behind the visit. When the calling on becomes more frequent, it is bound to interest everyone in the lane. Neighbours, who would till now only notice the official vehicle of the officer stop outside the house, now start donning the role of Sherlock Holmes out to crack a mystery. They hope to dig out the details from those who have access to the host's house, starting the chain of enquiries with the dhobi at the corner of the street, followed by the milkman and even the newspaper vendor.

The domestic help's turn comes last, when all else fails because asking her is akin to wielding a double-edged weapon. She is capable of conveying the enquiries equally well to the host of the police officer just as she is expected to convey the inside information to the neighbour. If there is an information blackout, the years of non-controversial reputation of the host are forgotten in a second and he becomes an object of suspicion.

The reaction of neighbours slowly but surely reaches a flashpoint. Interestingly, it occurs to none that the visits could have a positive aspect. Everyone has already reached the conclusion that something's gone wrong in the host's house. An active member of the gossip-mongering club finally confronts the hostess and asks why a young police officer has been visiting the house. The hostess is relieved for the uneasiness of the neighbours has been palpable all these days.

Finally, the news is broken that the gentleman in question will be marrying the host's daughter. His frequent visits are a part of marriage plans to be solemnised in the months to come.

From that moment on, the news spreads like wildfire and everyone's perception undergoes a drastic transformation. The host is no longer seen as an unlawful culprit but someone who has homely connections in the police department. All of a sudden, the sense of insecurity gives way to a sense of authority. Everyone in the locality starts feeling as if their daughter is getting married to the officer, who till just a day ago was being looked upon as a fearsome policeman. He is now the friendly neighbourhood Spiderman out to help everybody in their moment of distress.


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