When I was twelve years old my family moved to a new house in the suburbs. Even though our new house is located in a picturesque area, I often get nostalgic about our old neighbourhood. It was a close-knit community where everyone was involved in each other’s lives which was at times considered useful and at other times, an invasion of privacy. Nevertheless, most people were well at ease with the current situation.
Our next door neighbours included Mrs Jamshed, an elderly widow who lived with five cats. She was thin and wiry with long hair that she always wore in a bun. In my mind she could’ve easily been cast as a witch in the film “The Wizard of Oz”. Her attribute that won me over was her zealous love of baking. She would often come to our home with half a dozen freshly baked cupcakes.
One of our other neighbours included the Zaman family who had a daughter called Ayesha who was around my age. Often times we would spend our time in the nearby public library or walk in the park. The public library was considered a historic monument as it was more than a hundred years old. A limited budget had prevented it from being revamped but it was still a comfortable place to be on a hot summer’s day. The soft hum of the air conditioner and quiet whispering provided a homely ambiance for me to concentrate on my books.
Often in the evening I would go on walks in the park with either my mother or Ayesha. I would spend a majority of my time on the swings asking my mother to push as high as she could. With each creak my adrenaline would surge higher with fear that the swing might fall apart any moment now. Fortunately, that calamity never occurred. Occasionally Ayesha and I would surreptitiously pick a few flowers making sure we kept them hidden from the watchful gardener.
I also remember that there was a small corner shop a block away from our home. The owner, Mr Tariq was a stout man with thick gray hair who would always welcome us with a huge smile. It was here that I used to spend most of my saved money on homemade ice cream and sweets. Even though only three flavours were available; vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, the ice cream was heavenly. Every now and then when I am grocery shopping at a large supermarket with my mother I miss the warmth of Mr Tariq’s corner shop. My old neighborhood always gave me a sense of belonging; for me it will always be a place I once called home.