The first place most of us feel safe is … “home”. For me, home was, is, and always will be the place where I grew up – AmarJyoti Society. A housing community consisting of more than a hundred apartments. I know each and every one of those homes very well from within. Those apartments aren’t just apartments; to me, they are memories of my childhood. One of the aunties (we Indians address every elder as a sister, brother, uncle, aunty, grandfather or grandmother) wrote about her memories of their early days when AmarJyoti was just being built.
No mention of the society’s early days is complete without the mention of its two security pillars – Laxman and Mali. Today, there are security agencies that hire able-bodied people. Back then, we simply had watchmen, who were usually more able-hearted than able-bodied.
I remember how Laxman always seemed to have eyes everywhere and would appear just when we kids were planning to hide outside the gate. He would scold us and tell us to stay inside. There was this time where, once, he took it in his mind to move to Dubai, the place where dreams turned into reality. He would tell us kids that he was going to go to Doobaai soon.
Mali was the quieter one, but just as alert, and happily did all the errands the people in the society asked of him … be it fetching a packet of bread from Praful, the grocery shop that’s been serving the neighborhood since forever, or bringing milk from the dairy… he did it all, unerringly. Reed thin, with a horrible posture, Mali mama was more an authority figure for most of us. Where Laxman was jovial and comfortably chatted with us kids, Mali mama would usually just get by with a nod. And yet, when need arose, these two watchmen would join forces and become a formidable wall, keeping the residents of AmarJyoti safe.
I have a vague memory of this incident, where there was a break-in in one of the homes in the middle of the night, and a lot of grown-ups gathered downstairs to figure out a way to nab the thief, who was rumored to have a knife. Guess who climbed up three stories on a water pipe to get into the house to nab the thief? Laxman! And when the thief managed to escape him and run to the door, who was waiting right outside to nab him? Mali! Together, these two brave men caught the robber and handed him over to the authorities!
These two men were family members of our hundred-plus AmarJyoti family. Which is why, when, even after retirement, whenever they came to the society, to ask for money, or just to take a look at their karmabhoomi, their place of work, everyone who came to know they were here, would run down to meet them, to say hello. It was fun, asking them to guess who we were, for we had all grown up, our faces had changed, or so we believed. But these two were always able to recognize every single one of us, and praised and blessed us whole-heartedly; wishing us well. When we came to know of Mali mama’s passing, it was a sad day, for though he had retired ages ago, he was still very much a part of our hearts. I don’t know where Laxman is, and I hope and pray that he got his heart’s desire, to got to Dubai, and become a rich man.
Too often, we question our self-worth, thinking no one likes us, no one is bothered about us; but these two men are real-life examples, that every single person is important, that every single person we meet affects us, and in turn, is affected by us. All we need to do is continue to fulfill our duties.