Both my wife and I love to live in harmony with everybody in the neighborhood. We know what does it feel like to be seen as a bad neighbor and hence, we don’t want to be quietly scorned at by people whenever we walk in and out of our house. This is the main reason why we don’t show any sign of frustration to anybody else even when we sometimes feel we are being taken advantage of. This does not mean that we are the enlightened beings, but we are trying our best to accommodate everybody into our life. But sadly we have realized that not everybody shares the same feeling like we do. It’s said that wherever there is God, there is always a devil, and I think this is often true. I have realized that every community has at least one or two ill-natured people who stir up and spoil the whole social atmosphere in the neighborhood. This often makes me wonder why we the human beings, so-called social animals, are not equally blest with the ability to empathize and understand each other. It’s really sad that not all of us have the same heart to accommodate each other although we share the same human realm on this planet.
I have no serious problems with my neighbors. Although we hardly visit each other’s house, they are quite friendly and sociable. We often interact with them and with some of them, we even exchange eatables especially during our special festivals and ritual rites. So we are very compatible with most of the people in our neighborhood.
Only one neighbor seems to have some issues with us not realizing the amount of patience we have endured for years to accommodate her. The root of the problem started a few years ago when we discovered some technical complications in our water-pipeline system. We learned that water to some of our water-taps came from her water-meter and in the similar way, our water-meter supplied water to some of her taps. We invited plumbers from the City Corporation to fix the issue but they found that the connection points of the pipelines were located deep inside the walls of the house and that it was not possible for them to dig out the entire pipeline system. So there wasn’t anything we could do and we decided to let it be like that since it was not a serious problem yet. However, the mistake we have made at the time was that we let her know the issue and this seemed to have given her the best opportunity to save her water bill. Since then, we regularly saw her using the water lavishly. We know that the water supply to her kitchen and the toilet goes from our water-meter and that she often connects the external pipeline from those points to water her gardens the whole night. Especially during the winter, her gardens flood with water all night as she leaves the water supply on, and we have paid more than Nu.500 a month for the water bill. Yet we never complained because we didn’t want to create unnecessary misunderstanding in the neighborhood.
A couple of weeks ago, our taps in the kitchen and toilet went dry for days. We thought it was a usual water shortage problem and didn’t enquire anybody. We had the water only in the main bathroom which is connected to our water-meter and hence, we had to get water to the kitchen from the main bathroom for cooking and doing dishes. One day, my wife had gone down to check if the water-meter was functioning and only then she found that the meter of our neighbor was turned off. It is this meter that supplied water to our kitchen and toilet and to her main bathroom. When she turned it on, the neighbor woman came out and informed my wife that she had turned it off as she had received the water bill amounting to Nu.1300 for that month. What a mean attitude! She wanted to save her bill by turning off her meter and drinking from our meter. Yet my wife said she couldn’t say anything to her. She told her that she has a lot of dishes to be done and that she needed water in the kitchen. The neighbor told her that she would turn it off again after a while and my wife was left with no option but to agree. The meter was turned off again by the time I arrived home from office. The next day, it seems she had even come up to my wife to discuss the bill probably with the intention to let us share the cost as well. But before they could discuss the issue, she received some guests and she had to leave. I was really infuriated by what I heard from my wife and wanted to discuss with her in details, but after thinking for a while, I decided to leave it until the neighbor comes up once again. So far, she hasn’t approached us. To be honest, we have never taken advantage of the fact that our water supply to our kitchen and toilet is coming from our neighbor’s water-meter. In fact, we try our best to save as much water as possible thinking about our neighbor, but it seems just the opposite is happening on the other end. Sometimes, I just wonder if I and my wife should be more assertive and strong in order to avoid being bullied or taken advantage of. But we know it won’t solve the problems either. I think incidents like this one are God’s ways of testing our patience and love for mankind.