I always considered myself to be the proud owner of a strong will power and the courage to speak up against wrong. But the reality is when relationship, convenience, love, compassion are at stake, this power often takes a back seat. However incorrect and selfish it may sound, but it actually does at times.

I am a happy go lucky person, and usually gel well with people around me. But being a working woman I barely get time to socialise with my neighbours. Recently I discovered that a girl, almost my age, travels to office at almost the same time I do, and the good news is she is my next door neighbour. I really found it amusingly strange; we actually do not know the people who are separated from us by just a wall.

It started from a regular “Hi, Hello!” in the lifts, to long chats in the auto rickshaw, as we travelled to the bus stand to catch our respective office buses. Gradually it became ritualistic for us to travel together and talk our hearts out. Niti (is her name) stayed with her in laws, while her husband was mostly away on office tours. She almost everyday praised her mother in law for her co-operation, and declared she was the best of her kind. The praises got into my head and I eventually developed a strong respect for that lady. Recently I was not well and took a few days leave from office, and that is the time when I noticed this respectable aunty and her deeds.

I personally disliked people who litter, and made it a point, never to do so. However honestly I never took a step to stop people who did. Recently with the Swach Bharat campaign started by our Honourable Prime Minister, the zeal to stop one and others from shitting around has increased in me like many others. It is high time to start loving your country like the way you love your little home.

During my few leisure days at home, I noticed that Niti’s mother in law did not maintain any proper dustbin. She gave a packet to the guy who came to collect waste. But through out the whole day, she would put packets at her doorstep with all sorts waste in them, resulting in a fowl odour in the corridor. And she would fight with the sweeper for not taking the wastes away, and the sweeper would timidly make unsuccessful attempts to convey to her, that they collected waste only once a day. She was determined to keep her household spick and span, and gave a damn to hygiene and cleanliness of the common corridor area. She also had the habit of throwing things in the garden area from her balcony, creating slip hazard to the kids who play and the cleanliness as if she cared!

I decided to discuss the matter with Niti, but to my utter surprise she already knew about it. She bluntly pointed out that the housekeeping staff is responsible for the cleanliness of the corridor and garden, as much as we are for our respective houses. When asked about the risk of the kids getting hurt she playfully avoided confrontation. Days passed and I continued to behave normally with my responsible neighbours fearing some bitter situation.

One day when I was returning home after a hectic day at office, I actually saw a kid loose control of his bicycle on a waste and fall. It was too much for me to take, who cared of relationship with unsympathetic, illogical and irresponsible neighbours, it was time to give them back.

I rang the door bell at Niti’s place, and Niti opened the door with a smile. The smile did shake me off my purpose for a second but I revived soon. I made a poker face and sternly said that I wanted to talk to her mother in law for a while. Taken aback by my look Niti called her, and when she was about to greet me with a loving fake smile, I started!

“Aunty today I saw a kid loose control of his bicycle on a waste and fall, thankfully he was not too hurt. I am sorry to say but I have seen you throw waste to the garden from your balcony. I suppose who would stop doing this when your grandchildren are playing there too. Besides I want to make you aware that there are 500 families in our housing complex and it’s definitely not possible for the sweeper to collect wastes from your doorstep every now and then. It’s unhygienic for all the people staying here to be exposed to your household waste. Besides you do not have the right to dirty the place which is common to all.

As I see, you have a beautiful apartment which is so clean, when will you start treating this complex and this country as your home too?” I said and started walking to the door immediately without giving them time to react.

Niti and I are no longer friends but I am happy that her mother in law is a more responsible citizen of India now.

N.B. The above story is my brain child and completely fictitious but not irrelevant.

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