Contacts help. Always. All over the world. And they can really make life smooth. Or so they say. In a small city like Alwar, there is no way to escape them. If somebody isn’t your decade-old classmate, then he is a ‘junior’ or a ‘senior’ or a friend of a friend of a friend of a… you get the idea.
And we small townies live selflessly for others — what goes on in the neighbour’s house is of abiding interest to us and their well-being our supreme concern. Nothing escapes our 24x7 eagle-eyed scrutiny and we consider it our bounden duty to dispense advice free of charge.
Having been away for a few years from my beloved city, I’d somewhat forgotten what it was like to have concerned neighbours. So it took me a while to notice that I’d suddenly become the cynosure of
all eyes. No matter when I stepped out, whether to hail the sabziwala or just to water my lawn, I’d find one or the other neighbour assiduously sweeping her front steps or two of them chatting over the boundary wall. I’d smile dutifully and get on with the job at hand but that uneasy feeling of being watched prevailed.
The feeling grew and grew, groups of chattering ladies would fall silent or smile so brightly at my approach that it was easy to guess what the topic of their conversation was. The LNN, or the Local News Network, was clearly keeping busy. Just when I was about to collar one of them to find out just why had I earned so much attention, Mrs Ghai waddled up to me, “Can we talk for a minute?”
“Er... sure,” I led her to our home even as the others watched curiously.
“Don’t you want to discuss it with us, beta?” she asked solemnly. Clueless, I stared at her, “Discuss what?”
“You are courageous beta, but do you think we haven’t noticed your red-rimmed eyes?” she looked shrewdly at me, “It is that husband of yours, isn’t it?” Completely confused, I shook my head vigorously, “No, my hubby is perfectly all right, what red-rimmed eyes, auntyji??” And even as I said that my eyes fell on my reflection in the mirror and I burst into laughter and hurried into explaining it to the bewildered lady.
I’ll never be forgiven for denying my dear little city the juicy piece of gossip, as that was the last day I wore those uncomfortable contact lenses. I’ve switched over to my faithful pair of glasses and given up trying to make my smarting eyes adjust to the pesky ‘contacts’ forever! Needless to add, I haven’t been given a second glance by my kind neighbours since.