“I should never have let her into the apartment.” were my words when I got to know that the apartment in which my sister Jagvi was meant to live was full of Catholics and they didn’t like people of other religion to live there. But there was no option left for us. Luckily the owner of the house Mr. Dsouza readily accepted our request and allowed us to live in his house. He also did this because he was in need of money as soon as possible. I was worried as well as happy that he readily rented the house to Jagvi or else we don’t know what we do if we didn’t get that house. We were informed by Mr Dsouza that people living the apartment were not as friendly and open minded as he was towards religions other than their own religion. On the day of shifting to the apartment I told her, “See Jagvi, beware of everyone around you and don’t trust anyone in this apartment unless your gut says to do. Also I need you to call me up everyday in the morning as well as night before you sleep or you can even text me. I will also visit you frequently. Am I clear to you?” She replied, “Jagad, I’ll do as you say. I’m aware of what kind of people live here and how to protect myself.” “Good! Take care.”
Jagvi’s pov (after her brother Jagad had left):
Finally now I had a house to live in. I was tired after the travelling that I went to sleep. I slept for about two to three hours till I felt fresh. A lot had happened while I was sleeping which was loud and scaring enough to wake me up and immediately run out of the house and see what was going on. After I got up I decided to take a walk since I had that day itself to enjoy, from the next day onwards I was meant to go to work. I went out of the house, locked the house and was just in the lift to go down the apartment. I was just about to leave the apartment that I saw Mr Dsouza. He was looking very miserable and was heading to the lift. I waved to him. He smiled back to me but his smile didn’t have the genuineness that should be on a normal smile. Before I could ask anything he started telling, “I’m glad that you didn’t even get to know what was happening with me on the floor below yours.” I was puzzled and asked , “Why? What had happened?” He replied, “You know very well that Catholics living here don’t like non Catholics to live in this apartment. I rented you my home that’s why they were enraged and were yelling at me, asking for the reason I rented you this home, started giving me pointless reasons to throw you out soon and rather give my house to Catholics. I was very firm and I didn’t listen to them , they gave me a last warning to throw you out of my home. But I’m sure that I won’t throw you out because for the first time in my life I have found honest and humble people like your brother Jagad and you. I have one more house which is next to yours and is vacant and I’m looking for a non-Catholic to live in the house.” I told, “So you are looking for a neighbour for me. That’s good!” I smiled like a little girl. Mr Dsouza was like elder brother to me.
After few days I had so busy life that I couldn’t pay attention to anything happening in the apartment. I was focused on my work and personal life only. I couldn’t even realize that I got a neighbour. One fine day I was very tired and was feeling sleepy. I was entering in the apartment. I went to my floor and saw that some elderly people were standing there talking amongst themselves. I was puzzled and worried. As I went ahead, they surrounded me and started speaking to me, “See little girl, leave our apartment. You very well know that only Catholics are living in this apartment. It might be unsafe for you to live here. For your own safety we are advising you to leave this apartment and find another house to live in.” “You are correct. I know that only Catholics live here but Mr Dsouza in all his senses and willingly has rented me his home. Till he himself doesn’t throw me out I won’t move out of this apartment.” was my firm reply. They got angry and told, “Just leave out apartment or else… ” I was very angry and replied, “Or else??”. After hearing this one of them told, “How dare you argue with me!!!!!” and was about to slap me. I closed my eyes and was ready to face a slap. After few seconds, I felt someone near me. When I opened my eyes I saw a tall man standing near me and had held that person’s hand and literally just thrown away his hand in the air. That man told told, “As far as I know no religious book be it Gita, Quran or your own Bible teaches us to disrespect females.” The one who was about to slap me replied, “Who are you to explain about our religious book Bible? Are you a Catholic?” That man told, “I’m a man who knows that women deserve respect. I’m a Muslim.” To this he replied, “She is a Hindu girl, why are you saving her? After all there is always a lot of tension between Muslims and Hindus.” “To me she is a woman. She is neither Hindu nor Muslim in my eyes. I don’t know her personally so I have no right to hate her. Women are meant to be respected and worshipped.” was the man’s reply to him. He told, “Oh please, stop the free delivery of knowledge!!!” After that they went away in frustration. One thing was sure that he was a man who was respectable and had a forward thinking. I took a deep breath. I told him, “Thank you for the help! I was really scared. You came at the right time.” He told, “You’re welcome. Actually I saw him just about to slap you and I can’t tolerate a woman being hurt physically, mentally or emotionally. It was a coincidence!!” I told, “That’s appreciable. So who are you? Do you live in this apartment?” with a curious face. He replied, “I’m Kareem Khan. I’m your neighbour. I have frequently seen you entering the apartment, our floor. It seems you have a busy life. I’m also working man that’s why I didn’t get time to try to meet you.” I smiled and told, “I’m Jagvi Acharya. I don’thave really a busy life but I’m quite engrossed in my work that I don’t spend time walking somewhere at any time. Also I want to keep myself away from these cruel people of the apartment. So finally we met!!!” He was a man who was tall and had very attractive eyes. His voice was deep enough for me to continously listen him speaking be it anything. Otherwise I would hate all guys around me just after listening to them and more when they show their true vulgar colours. But he was different.
I saw that a girl (who was my neighbour) was about to get slapped and I just ran in time to save her similar to the heroes in a Bollywood movie. I was feeling very awkward to talk to her but luckily she herself started talking. Her eyes were so beautiful! I could just get lost in her eyes till she herself would stop me. Her voice was sweet enough to listen peacefully without disturbance. Although I have met many girls in my life earlier but their voice weren’t so appealing as hers. She was different.
We were friends. We both used to try to steal time to meet up and talk, if possible we had regular morning walks. I used to like it that we were spending time. On weekends he used to my house to have different food items made by me as he didn’t know how to cook food! I was surprised how every now and then he used to appreciate my cooking skills. When I used to taste my own food it would be horrible and tasteless. Out of curiosity I asked him, “Kareem, do you really like food prepared by me or you just appreciate not to discourage me? If you don’t like it then you can frankly tell me.” He touched my shoulders, “You need to know one thing. I appreciate the food prepared by you because it is actually genuinely tasty. There is one more reason I like the food is that you made it for me.” He was just directly looking into my eyes. My heart started racing. Our eye contact broke when the doorbell rang. Mr Dsouza was there on the door.
Jagvi had attracted me a lot. I don’t know whether she was liking it or not. We started spending time together, be it regular morning walks or enjoying the food made made by her. Food made by her was delicious. I don’t know why but she always doubted her cooking skills. When she was getting highly curious she asked me, “Kareem, do you really like food prepared by me or you just appreciate not to discourage me?” I touched her shoulders and I was very nervous but I hid my nervousness from her and told, “You need to know one thing. I really appreciate the food prepared by you because it is genuinely very tasty. There is one more reason I like the food is that you made it for me.” I was looking into her eyes as if I was searching for something in them. My heart started racing. Our eye contact broke when the doorbell rang. Mr Dsouza was there on the door.
We greeted him. He was genuinely happy this time. He asked, “How are you both?” I replied, “We both are fine. You say.” He replied, “I’m fine till now. The moment the apartment people start torturing me.” Kareem assured, “Don’t worry uncle. Everything will be fine.”
Days passed. Everything was peaceful. Jagvi and Kareem thought everything was settling down. But one fine day both of them saw that the apartment people started torturing Mr Dsouza again. They heard screaming sounds from the playground and Jagvi ran to see what happened. She saw that an eight year old boy who was the son of Mr Fernández was injured badly and was bleeding. Mr Fernández was one of them who were torturing Mr Dsouza. Later he realised that his son was screaming. He ran and rushed to the hospital with Jagvi and Kareem.
After sometime the doctor told that his son had lost a lot of blood and was in urgent need of blood. Mr Fernández told, “Doctor, may I give blood to him?” Doctor replied, “No. You can’t because you yourself will grow weak if you donate blood if you give it to your son. Only a young person can easily give the blood.” Kareem told, “Shall I?” The doctor agreed and finally after few hours his son was out of danger.” Mr Fernández was about to break down and somehow told, “I don’t have words to thank you!!! I was highly scared for my only son. If you hadn’t donated your blood I don’t know what would have happened you. God bless you. I’m very sorry my children, Kareem and Jagvi. You can stay in our apartment till the day you wish.” “Uncle, you need not thank us. We did it because your son is just like our younger brother to us.” replied Jagvi. Mr Fernández went to meet his son.
I was worried about Mr Fernández’ son but at the right time Kareem donated his blood and finally he is out of danger.
Finally everything is fine.
I have written this story just for the sake of reading and it is not that I’m demeaning Christianity. Please forgive me if you feel offended.