Yesterday one of our neighbours - Pragnabhabhi, Kamleshbhai, Tejas and Chintan left their place in our neighbourhood in Malad and shifted to a new place in Bhayander. If we were staying in a building then it would not have made much difference but we live in a chawl in a colony called Bhadran Nagar. Hence it was a big incident for my family and many other families in our neighbourhood.
There are 16 rooms in my chawl and exactly opposite is another chawl with another set of 16 rooms. The doors of our homes face the doors of the homes in the chawl opposite to ours. Pragnabhabhi used to stay in the home 2 rooms after my home. Just beside her stays Lalitabhabhi and Rameshbhai's family who is a Marwadi family. Exactly opposite to her stay Kokilabhabhi and Ketanbhai. These three families are very close to each other. We also have good relations with all the three.
Now, Pragnabhabhi and Lalitabhabhi together purchased new flats and Pragnabhabhi already moved to her new home yesterday. So on this occasion there was hustle bustle since morning yesterday. Kokilabhabhi came to our home and started talking in an emotional tone about how she felt on this occasion. She had tears in her eyes. She was not feeling well since last few days anyway and moreover this now. Her one of the closest neighbours and friend was moving away from her. She said what she would do when Lalitabhabhi also moves away after a few days. She would be all alone.
This is the essence of staying in a chawl or a community habitat. You are close to your neighbours. Even at the midnight you are in need of help and they are there. There are numerous other advantages. You not only share new recipes you make for lunch/dinner but also your grief and happiness. They - your neighbours are a part of your life. Kokilabhabhi had become emotional as she was feeling a part of herself was moving far from her. Her tears made me, my sisters and my mother also feel a bit sad.
In a chawl system, the neighbours are very much a part of your home. Me and my dad are most of the times out of our home for work but my sisters and my mother are kind of attached to our neighbours Rekhabhabhi, Ramilabhabhi, Manisha, Kokilabhabhi, Lalitabhabhi and Pragnabhabhi. Ramilabhabhi are at my home most of the times. At night/evening also when I return home after a tiring day, my mother is sitting and chitchatting with either Ramilabhabhi or some other neighbour. And at times I don't like that. I feel as if my privacy is at stake. But then I don't complain and perhaps I also feel I don't mind it because in the same manner I like the company of my colleagues at office, my mother and sisters like the company of my neighbours. They share their work, gossip and do the daily chores in each others company and watch saas-bahu programs also together!
There are fights also at times between families staying in the same chawl but then that’s part of life. Good and bad are sides of the same coin.
Your doors always remain open, your children grow up easily and there are lot many other advantages like the safety of your home in your absence etc. of living in a chawl/community.
Tomorrow even if I move out of my current residence to live in a bigger place, I will never be able to forget my this home where I was not only born but also grew into whatever I am today.