Half a cup of sugar

Neighbours are strange species. You aren’t related to them yet they make the best of friends or the worst of enemies.

I have always thought of myself as an amicable person (feel free to disagree) and my neighbours have always been fond of me. This place was no different.

By now, you all must be aware of how I had been catapulted to an uninhabitable terrain. Some very dear friends know the existence of this place because of me. I put this place on the map, for them (so I would like to think).
Kamlesh aunty and Vimla aunty (not their real names, rude to use X and Y) have been my neighbours here. Remember the neighbour who gave me a mini tutorial during the blackout? That’s Kamlesh aunty. That day I had felt like one of those movie characters from those realistic movies that showed women queing up in front of the local tap.
Kamlesh aunty is petite woman of around 60 years of age, sharp nose as they all have here, and an infectious laughter. She would brighten me up on the dullest of days. She has always been on the run; running after her granddaughter, running after her cows (she has half a dozen of them), running to the field to do things that farmers do. I am slightly dissappointed that she can’t drive her tractor. She’s also a doctor and an engineer by experience and most importantly my handyman.
You know how people say that some people have magic in their hands?
She is magic.
She could fix anything and leave the best in their profession with their heads hanging low.
Like a layman, I have always thought that engineers can fix a broken fan, a broken water pump, and everything else that was broken.
No, they can’t.

The husband couldn’t fix anything. He would ask me minute details like what time the fan went off, or what I was doing when the water pump made a strange noise, or what kind of a noise it was. One unfortunate morning, I was trying to change a bulb and it burst like nobody’s business. I could have died, or worse, been blinded forever. Instead of showing concern, the husband asked if I was trying to change it with the switch on.
No, I wasn’t.
These insignificant questions resulted to nothing because the answer was always Jeetendra, the local electrician.
One fine day, when the ever-so-busy Jeetendra didn’t show up, I sought Kamlesh aunty’s help. The water pump wasn’t starting.

Aunty walked up to it and had a little chat with it. It sang like never before. Actually, she poked it with a stick.
Another eventful day when I was monkeying on the terrace figuring out why the world had electricity but me, she helped me do something with the wires and back it was, in a fraction of a second.
She is also my local intelligence person (self appointed). She would tell me how many packs of smoke were bought by the husband’s buddy and whether he paid with a hundred or a five hundred.
She brought me news that the husband hid from me. He eventually stopped asking, “Tujhe kaise pata”.
She was the one to get me a help and bargain with millions of them in strict dogri, while I stared blankly. She has been my hero ever since we struck gold with the help hunting.
I find her fascinating and an extremely warm person. Some might think she’s intrusive but on days when the husband returned late and she came to check on me, it didn’t feel like an intrusion. She cared. She cared for me on all those days when I was taken terribly sick and the husband was on duty call. She held my hand when I was worried sick about the mishaps around us. She said it would be okay; and it was, in the end.


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