Neighbours our saviours

Neighbours our saviours

They are our only immediate recourse in an emergency

All was well, until when one morning he took ill. Having no one around at home would have proved fatal. But for the cook and the kindly neighbour who rushed him to the closest hospital in the nick of time before the family could be alerted, my father-in-law would not be alive today and well on the road to recovery. This brings me to the topic – our neighbours.

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people,” quipped G K Chesterton, revealing a universal truth about neighbours.

How many among us can love the grumpy old man who never smiles or take kindly to the conceited neighbour who is the self-appointed bully of the boulevard or tolerate the miserly lady who refrains from paying up to the common fund for the upkeep of the neighbourhood? And yet, being kind and helpful when required is common in all neighbourhoods.

Love them or hate them, but we just can’t ignore them. Consider what our next-door neighbours are to us. As G K Chesterton put it, “Your next-door neighbour is not a man; he is an environment. He is the barking of a dog; he is the noise of a piano; he is a dispute about a party wall; he is drains that are worse than yours, or roses that are better than yours.”

Neighbours are in short, the people with whom we share the daily, small happenings of our lives. On our way out of or into our homes their faces greet us, their voices share the concerns of the neighbourhood and their sentiments on health, wealth, wisdom, love and hate are in some way the reflection of our opinions. But what makes neighbours the people we cannot ignore is the fact that the neighbours are our only immediate recourse in an emergency situation.

Sudden mishaps and the unforeseen illnesses that need immediate medical attention, like the one that struck my family, loom large in the arena of our lives. And what could be worse is that these invariably occur at a time when we are alone in our homes. In such situations, the neighbour who answers our distress calls is indeed our saviour. How true are the words, “Far better a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.”

In the days of yore, when neighbourly ties were as deep as they were spontaneous, neighbours were also the first resort for borrowing groceries, medicines, toys, stationery, books and sundry other necessities of daily life that run out just when they were needed urgently. They were and are, always there for us, our neighbours.