I am a very secular person!” announced Mrs Kapoori one day to the girls at home, who were her paying guests, “I don’t care if you are Punjabi or Bihari or South Indian!” And then she heard the noise.
It was the sound of the door opening in the empty flat just above hers. Mrs Kapoor ran up the stairs and found a worker sweeping the floor inside. “What’s happening?” she asked.
“The new owner told me to clean the flat,” said the worker sweeping dust onto Mrs Kapoor’s feet.
“Who is the new owner?” asked Mrs Kapoor and then grimaced as the worker mentioned a name.
“I don’t like that community?” said Mrs Kapoor as she went down and met the girls. “I thought you just said you were a secular person!” said one of them.
Obviously Mrs Kapoor wasn’t, as she went from secretary to chairman to see the flat was not transferred to anyone from this particular community, but it seemed a bit late as the transaction had already happened the chairman told her.
After that, ever so often Mrs Kapoor heard the sound of the flat being opened and even a baby cry.
A carpenter’s drill was heard and she gritted her teeth each time a nail was hammered, till her doorbell rang one day.
She opened the door and beheld the most incredibly pretty woman she had seen.
“May I borrow some milk, my baby is hungry!” said the lady. “Of course!” said Mrs Kapoor, “Come in, what’s your name?”
The lady told her, her name, and Mrs Kapoor realized too late who it was. But hospitality was Mrs Kapoor’s virtue, and she boiled the milk, helped pour it into the feeding bottle and then as the baby was fed, they talked.
It was plain girly talk, about shopping and life and babies and pictures and TV serials.
“What time does your husband come home?” asked Mrs Kapoor as she poured the young mother her second cup of tea and her own third, “you should come over whenever you are bored!”
That evening the girls met the new neighbour, “She’s just like us!” said Mrs Kapoor to the girls that night.
“What a fool I was trying to prevent them from staying in the building!” It wasn’t long before Mrs Kapoor and the lady became close friends and it wasn’t too long either before the baby upstairs started being brought home by Mrs Kapoor, “This house has never heard a baby laugh or cry,” she exclaimed.
“No difference between the cry of a Muslim baby, a Hindu baby or a Christian one!” whispered one of her paying guests, “They are all made by the same God..!”