I am often out for a walk in this neighbourhood. Nice, sprawling backyard the houses have. It is dirty at times – I can’t deny that – and the grass is hidden under piles of bricks and other construction material, not to forget rickety old tyres and dog excreta. I don’t know what is it with these dogs or their owners for that matter. Their ability to pick the neatest section of the backyard to err, do their business is directly related to their owners’ discretion at not being heard/seen. Anyhow, other than these occasional eyesores, the neighbourhood is a perfect place for a stroll.
When I am there in the mornings, I can hear Moms preparing breakfast. Since the area is predominantly Bengali, this is often luchis, aloo ki sabji and lately, paranthas.
I don’t understand this food for the most part. In my opinion, kids today are deprived of the delights of a good, golden yellow banana. I usually jump to a terrace or two, taking in the morning sunshine. It was different when my partner was with me; she was an expert at windowsills, no matter how narrow the seating space be. She would tag me along to several of these and when the lady of the house wasn’t looking, we would tug at a few eggs. Junior had got a thing for these – haven’t a clue where he picked that up. Now, however, things are different. Alone, I am content with my backyard and only occasionally hop over to these asbestos sheets people have over their storerooms.
One of these houses has far too many cats. Little menaces, in my opinion. One particularly long black and white tabby cat mews at the sight of me, baring her teeth. Really, the cheek of these creatures, facing up to a full grown monkey. It seems the group of cats is well fed and loved for I often see pitchers of milk and bowls of fish/meat bones in their makeshift dining room. The house next to this one has two unfriendly dogs. They scream and screech all the time I am there and I usually go when they start.
Life isn’t the same as it used to be before. I miss my partner chuckling away beside me, Junior jumping on my back. We would go exploring every weekend; my day job didn’t allow me much time during the workdays. Sometimes I wish we had police stations where we could file an FIR. Would they go looking for my little family, say if I paid the men there with my savings?
Days go by as they once did, the sun setting on the town every evening and bringing rest and slumber to the Bengali neighbourhood. The Moms fix their families a dinner of fish and rice, with pickles for flavour. The cats retire to their box bed and the dogs yap and wag their tails when their masters return. For me, all on my own, there is little charm left in the world. I sometimes wander all night, under the silver moonlight, waiting for the first glimpse of dawn. Maybe, one fine day, when the sun rises over the Bengali neighbourhood, it will bring to me all that I have lost.