A good neighbour is a blessing while a bad neighbour is a curse. The city-bred people are generally lacking in sympathy. They are mostly cold in their manners; they are more selfish than the villagers who are large hearted. I live in a thickly populated part of the town. I like to cultivate good relations with the people around me. I believe that no man, however rich or strong, can live in self-sufficiency. My next door neighbour to the right is Mr. Tara Singh. We are on the best of terms. We are deeply attached to each other. He is a gentleman par-excellence. He has a completely non-communal outlook on life. We share each other’s joys and sorrows. He has a jolly temperament. His robust optimism and his constant high spirits have always cheered me. Whenever some anxiety weighs upon me, I immediately seek his company and draw comfort from his ever-smiling face and carefree looks.
He makes light of an illness, a financial loss, a near and dear one’s death, even an insult, whereas anyone of these things is sufficient to rob me of my peace of mind and impose a severe strain on me. His companionship dispels all my fears, doubts and worries. We daily go for a walk together. We are both fond of boating and go to the river for boating every Sunday. We both have a passion for chess and never miss a game or two every evening. He is also a cinema fan like me. We differ in our preferences for film stars but that does not prevent us from enjoying a picture together. He cannot tolerate my smoking. His hatred is not based on any religious sentiment. He just feels a natural aversion for it. He is very stingy. I have often tried to set before him an example of liberality but he continues to be close-fisted.
He is very much interested in sports. He does not miss any sporting event. We like each other immensely and I can call him a good neighbour who is very accommodating. Just opposite me there is the palatial house of Seth Karori Mai. He is some rare specimen of humanity. He is a millionaire. He is issueless but he is so miserly that he would not spend a penny. He is a thin and lean fellow. He is putting on the same weather-beaten suit which he purchased of a second -hand dealer twenty years back. He never brushes it lest it should wear out sooner. He never takes milk or fruit. He lives on a few biscuits, a rotten banana or an orange and a cup of tea without milk. He has more than half a dozen buildings but he himself lives in a small, dark, dingy room. His room is electric fitted but he never makes use of electric light.
He lights a small candle when he stands in need of light. If some drops of wax are split over, he would go on collecting them and remould them into candles. To buy a banana or an orange, he would trot all the way to the fruit market and would buy a few rotten bananas or oranges after a lot of higgling, haggling. He trusts nobody. He hates social contacts. He is a big banker. He lends money at usurious rates of interest. Money is his God. He loves hoarding. He never gives a penny in charity. He is selfish and greedy. He fleeces his tenants but seldom looks to their needs. He seldom wears shoes and never goes to the movies. He is always serious and business-like.
He never presents a smiling face to anybody. He is quite illiterate but very quick at figures. He is a psychologist and can easily read your mind. He is very shrewd. He has a very strong instinct. He is too clever to be ever taken in by anybody. He is a past master in the art of exacting money from others. You will be surprised to know that his bank balance runs into eight figures. From his general appearance, one will be led to think that he is a very poor miserable fellow who is penniless. I have failed in my efforts to draw him into conversation or establish any social contact with him. He is a man of few words. People avoid his ominons looks in the morning.
Small children are terribly afraid of him. My neighbour on the left-hand side is a college lecturer. He has married quite recently. His wife is also a college lecturer. They form a happy couple. They are a well-matched pair. They live in perfect harmony. They have refined tastes. They are always dressed according to the latest fashion. Their rooms are artistically decorated. The modern paintings, curtains and curios in the rooms, all make you envy them. They have cultured friends and I love to hear their fine jokes and laughter. There are some other people also in my street. But there is nothing about them worth mentioning. They just lead their lives like machines and attract no notice of their neighbours.