Nosy neighbors are a pain you-know-where, but make excellent topics for blog posts, especially years down the line, when they no longer are your neighbors. I had one such nosy neighbor some years back. Don’t let stereotyping take over your imagination and make you see her as this old Aunty-ji who spies on the happenings in the neighborhood. My neighbor was a young lady in her late 20s (which made her much younger than me), and a teacher. She lived with her husband and 10 year old son in the apartment right across mine.
I had just moved back to my hometown with my children due to the atrocious functioning of the Kendriya Vidyalaya at Danapur. When the first question your 14 year old son is asked by a classmate when he steps into his new class is, “Do you want to meet your Bhabhi?” (Bhabhi is sister-in-law and the boy who asked the question was indicating that the new boy better not have eyes for this particular girl), you laugh it off. But when you find the teachers least interested in teaching, odd students coming to class drunk, and others who are at their swaggering and threatening best scaring your children out of their wits, you feel it is time to move to a safer place. So it was that I, who had sworn to follow the L & M (Lord and Master for the newbies) to whichever station he was posted to, much like Sita who followed Rama to the forest, volunteered to return (quite unlike Sita in that) to the hometown for the sake of better schooling for the children
As is the usual practice in nammude naadu (our land), we (Mom and children) did not have any adults or ‘elders’ (read old people with grey hair whom we need to take care of but whose presence gives respectability and supposed protection to the young lady, in this case someone about to touch 40, staying alone with her kids, one of whom was almost 15) staying with us. Not being someone concerned with such practices, I went about my life. Parenting, the housework, walking the dog (we stayed on the 5th floor, and no lift either), shopping for the house, helping the younger one with studies and of course my driving lessons took up most of my time. In the evenings, when I went to collect the clothes left on the line to dry in the terrace, I spent some time talking to the other ladies, who would have gathered there to unwind after the day’s work.
One such day, my Nosy Neighbor, who had not yet revealed herself to be nosy in character to me, asked casually,
“Who visited you last evening?”
I know I could have taken umbrage at that intrusive question, but didn’t. Unlike what some blog readers of mine think, I don’t go around biting people’s head off for the sake of it. If at all I bite your head off rest assured that I have exhausted ALL other options. Even my worst enemy will assure you that I am extremely polite by nature and bend over backwards to accommodate people and their idiosyncrasies, to the point that my good nature is taken advantage of as a rule. Yes, fact is stranger than the fiction that they think up.
Anyways, though it took me a few minutes, I recalled that the First Born’s friend and classmate had come over to our place, as he does now and then. When I told my neighbor that she replied,.
“No, it couldn’t be. The sandals were quite big. It surely must have been someone else!”
Nosy-parkers or not, in our part of the world, all and sundry seem to think they ought to keep an eye on a lady staying by herself. They become self-appointed wardens, and also spies for the sake of the absent husband. One of my friends had an anonymous mail sent to her husband warning him that ‘people’ visited her when he wasn’t around. Yeah, we women are not supposed to have visitors if the husband is not at home. Wonder when our society will ever grow up and stop ‘minding’ women?!
Knowing where the questions from my nosy neighbor were coming from, but not letting on that I knew, I shook my head with a smile and repeated no one else had visited me. I could see that the woman was not convinced. I hope in later years she realized how big a 15-year olds feet can grow to be, when her own son grew up to be that age.
Living in a small town there were not many places we Mom and children could go to once the sun was down. Besides who would dare with the strange ideas that men and the society in general have, that a woman out on her own is “asking for it”?! So come evening, we were always to be found at home.
One day the L&M ‘s colleague who was posted to the area, called to say he would take us all out to the Army Officer’s club along with his family for an evening of tombola. The children were naturally excited about the outing. Once ready, I glanced at the clock wondering whether I should lock the door and walk down with the children and wait at the entrance so as not to inconvenience the family. But no sooner had I opened the front door with this thought in mind than the door opposite also opened.
“Where are you going?” asked my neighbor when she saw me and the children dressed for an outing.
Good God, had she been laying in wait for me? How the hell did she even know that I was going out? Sigh. Only after gleaning all facts from me was she remotely satisfied. But she continued standing there, waiting to see who would come to pick us up. I am sure she watched us piling into the car and made sure that the man’s family was indeed with him, surreptitiously from behind her curtained window.
This and a few more such incidents later, in our home, she became someone who we mercilessly joked about. The Lord & Master called her the best ‘security service’ I could ever have. I simply resigned myself to her inquisitive nature and continued answering her with a smile, though privately I blew fumes at her nosy nature.
The best was of course, yet to come. One day she asked me, casual like,
“Where did you go last week?”
I shook my head. We hadn’t gone anywhere as far as I knew.
“Very early in the morning?” she persisted.
She really couldn’t have spied on me early in the morning too?!!
“It was raining really hard,” she said trying to jog my memory, so her curiosity could be satiated.
When she mentioned ‘rain’ I remembered the day and had to call Captain Haddock to my aid. Billions of Bilious Blue Blistering Barnacles! Great flat-footed grizzly bear! She didn’t mean to say she was keeping a watch on me at 3-30 a.m. in the morning?! Didn’t she sleep at night? Even as these thoughts were racing through my head, she added,
“And Goofy was with you!”
Goofy? I was totally lost how Goofy came into the picture. But Goofy, our Spitz had been left behind at home on the morning in question. Swallowing more of Captain Haddock’s insults rising inside me, I said it must have been the time I went to the railway station, children in tow to drop the L & M. His leave had got over and he had had to get back to his Army station.
“It couldn’t have been the railway station,” she said in all earnestness. “Try to recall. Goofy was with you too.””
Again that bit about Goofy. I was flummoxed. I knew I had not been anywhere else. The reference to rain made it pretty certain which day she was talking about.
“Your husband was holding her in his hands.” she suggested helpfully.
“It was raining, na? You had the umbrella and he was holding Goofy in his hands so she wouldn’t get wet may be…” she was now speculating..
I could have died laughing. Indeed I had held the umbrella for the L & M on the day in question. But it had not been Goofy he was holding. On that dark rainy morning, what she thought Goofy had just been his suitcase.
Oh my, you are far more patient than I am. I could never have put up with that! Of course I live in a different place where attitudes are obviously far different from the norms where you are. Still, you are a patient lady….
Sadly, I am a lot more patient than I like myself to be. Thanks for the visit and the comment, Kat 🙂
OMG! There is no limit to such people, is there? 😀
None at all! 😛
Hmm, walking around in early mornings at 3.30 with mysterious looking bags, your son having friends with unusually large feet, you seem to be leading quite an adventurous life 🙂
Loved how you managed to weave this into quite a humorous post, although I am sure that if Ms Nosy Neighbor ever reads it, she ll give you a call. And knowing her, she has probably figured out your blog url and you ll get a call from her soon, if you already haven’t !!!
Rofl. Well, it was during those days when blogging was unknown. In fact there was no internet here either. 😛 Lol, but suppose she comes across my blog url by accident….! *gulp* 😉
Ritu Lalit said:
They do it in my country too … but unlike you, I am positively rude, and blessed (cursed?) with an overactive imagination, I spin stories that would make them … ahem envy me for my hot and happening life
Errr… you had me thinking for a while that this was some other Ritu commenting or that you had moved to some other country! Hehe… And I love how that overactive imagination of yours goes about doing its work!
Yamini Vijendran said:
Nice post! These specimen can’t seem to have enough masala from the sappy serials on TV, so they go around smelling for some spice.
Welcome to Shail’s Nest and thank you, Yamini.
Tell me about these specimen looking for masala everywhere. Sigh.
Sandhya Kumar said:
This is too much! But I know people are there like your ‘nosy…real nosy neighbour’. You were patient personified then, I can see! Had a good laugh, though I was fuming too!
When you think of it years later you are able to laugh more 🙂
Oh Gosh! What pests! I wouldn’t say that I haven’t encountered people like her. And yes, like you I am generally polite, sometimes even a tad bit sarcastic :).
I was too polite to her those days! 🙂
R's Mom said:
hahahahah! like L&M says, surely great security service you had..that too for free eh?
Lol, yes indeed 😉 😛
Take a bow to ur patience.
I would have snapped her just the second time. May be thats Y people get cautious around me sometiems but I am happy with it. It is better to stay in solace in an empty space.
The way u dealt with her – hats off and that goofy reallly goofed me up !
Hope u tackle all nosy ppl with the same calm mind 🙂
I have still not lost my patient nature. i guess it is intrinsic to me. 🙂 Thanks Afshan, *takes a bow* 😀
Neighbours, maids, milkmen – everyone here thinks everyone else’s business is their business. My milkman wanted to know if I have kids and when I said not yet, he went on to ask me haven’t I been married for 2 years yet. It’s a pity you had to endure such irritating creatures, but like you said – they do make fun subjects and good entertainment years down the line!
Your milkman wanted to know that! Omg, we are a country of nosy people, aren’t we? :P.
Love your optimism Shail – “These lot do make fun subjects for blogs”; Way to see the positive side of things; And of course your humour infused style of writing. Just like the others, I can’t believe you were so patient with her. But hey, “she” did inspire a great blog post! Loved it.
Welcome to Shail’s Nest and thank you 🙂 I feel most irritating things make you laugh some time in the future. For example, all those fights between your kids that drove you up the wall. Even when they were happening I knew we’d talk about them in later years and laugh ourselves silly. Of course those days I had not heard of blogs.
Nosy neighbours need nissing
The good ones need kissing
A blessing or bane
Can drive one insane
Hug the one and leave the other hissing!
Lol, Gulshan. Your limerick says it yet again! 😀
Wait ! Even I know that large chappal wali lady .She didn’t take “The elder one for an answer and actually looked around to see if someone was hiding …you know like under the table, under the bed etc etc 🙂
Ahh, you have met her too, Sridevi! They exist everywhere, don’t they? 🙂
LOL!!! If only her nose extended, like Pinocchio’s every time she poked it into others business….Hats off to your patience!! I had one like that and off all places here in the US. I gave her the silent treatment every time her questions tried to cross my boundary of privacy…Then one day I asked her “why do you want to know?” That stopped her questioning and made her a little careful when she talked to me.
Sigh. When I look back I wonder why I was so patient?! But then that is how I am made 😦
This is hilarious :)) ….even though I can imagine how annoyed I would be if I actually had to deal with such chronically curious folks. This lady seems to be suffering from some OCD. Hats off to your patience !!
Thank you, Monika. Yes, even when it was happening, the funny side of it was evident too. 🙂
The Fool said:
Ha Ha. Nice one. I remember one neighbor when I was a kid who got over curious how my IIT JEE preparations were going on. So whenever my mock test results used to come, we used to find the enveloped opened. And generally they would be found in a happy mood on the days following as my performance used to be dismal.
Oh my! That’s unbelievable. Really, the extent to which some people go to satisfy their curiosity!
You said she was a teacher. Umm when did she teach?
Good question, Vivek. 😀
I could so relate to this post as Mom and us have stayed alone for 10 years. Crazy some people are! Instead of minding their own business, they’ll have all the time on earth to poke their nose into other person’s lives.
Women who stay alone with or without kids seem to be everyone else’s business!
And now if you go back via a time machine, I am sure you will punch her the day she first met you. 🙂
I am almost sure about that 😛
Oh my. If it had been me, I would have told her to stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine. Or I would have just spilled out the entire details of my “secret affair” and watched her head explode into a thousand pieces. 😛
Welcome to Shail’s Nest, A. Your idea seems excellent, except it never occurred to me!
Just came across your blog and had a good laugh, but I admire you for the restraint you showed! Sigh……some people. Great writing, anyway!
Welcome to Shail’s Nest, Ronfire and thank you. Sometimes I think I am too patient for my own good 🙂
Lindy Lee said:
Patience is a virtue of which you are in possession…
Lol, yes I agree.
I must say that you are patience personified. I am sure I would have messed it up with an acid remark or two.
Too bad that I am too patient, eh?: 😛 😀
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