When I moved from Melbourne to this new town called Gympie in Queensland, I knew no one. I had known only few of my office colleagues whom I met during the interview. Having just returned from a crowded family holiday in India, no wonder I felt alone. I was undergoing a dilemma whether I had made the 'right move' to come to the 'right place'. I found a small unit house, locked myself and spent my time either watching movies or browsing the Internet until my neighbour knocked my door one day.
My neighbour was standing at the door with a basket of goodies that had tea, sugar, noodles and rice. I thought he was delivering it to a wrong address. He smiled and said, "This is my way of welcoming you to the neighbourhood, mate. Enjoy yourself". Whenever I returned from office, he would catch hold of me for a few small talks on what he did on that day and ask me few questions on what I did at work. After those chats, after a few days, things started improving. I started to be social with others on the streets and also at the work. His random acts of kindness didn't stop there.
When I rush home to take my clothes to save them from the afternoon rains, I have always found them neatly folded and kept in front of my door. On the weekends, he would ask me if I needed anything 'down the streets', as he is going for a stroll. He would knock at my door while cooking to complement how nice the curry flavour is (I had to offer him dinner for a day or two - I am happy about it). He would offer me a ride on his car to go to markets when he goes. He reminds me if I had left my windows opened or doors unlocked (yea, I do that to check how good this town is) when I come home. I have thanked many a times for his small acts of kindness.
One day I asked him why he is doing all these (yea, if someone is extremey good to us, you doubt it and ask why - that's what my city folks have taught me). He said, 'I will tell you mate, when I came to this place a few years ago, I was broke, depressed going through a divorce and what-not, I felt I wanted to kill myself. Then, one of the neighbour here, helped me to recover. He talked me out of the hole, comforted to bring me back where I am now. He's gone now, but it's my way of paying tribute to him. I know how tough it would be to move to a new place and find your feet. Don't you worry, I am here'.
On the other day, I asked him, 'Dont you get annoyed by the people who laughs at you for the things that you do to others?'. He replied, 'Yea, mate. I know there are few goofies out there who snap at me and think I am a weirdo from another planet. But, these are the little things that every good neighbour should be doing, not as a duty but as a courtesy thing. I always do these things to make myself feel good. If the people are good, then they will feel happy, thank me and smile at me. If not, at least I am happy having known that I had done some little good for others. It's all about looking after each other, is it not?'.
I am still thinking what I should do to pay him back. Well, he had taught me that too, didn't he? Perhaps, I need to find another lonely looking person who is struggling to settle down in this town and help him/her.
Didn't Mother Teresa tell you this: "I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?"