A Colony of Concern

by K Jambulingam



I moved into my house in the Teachers' Colony after my retirement from the army. The army quarters were big enough to accommodate any number of guests. Here this house had two bedrooms with a small garden and a doghouse. I was happy that my dog had a separate house to sleep in. But seldom had he stayed there. He was always with me in the hall and sometimes shared my bed which my wife always objected to. 0nce she went to be with our daughter in U.S on a dependent visa, the dog and I were free in the sense that there was no one to control our movements. Caesar was my only companion till I went to sleep. He slept some time on the floor and most of the time he was on the corner of my bed. But he was really a very good watchdog. I used to go for a long walk along with the military fence on the outer ring road in the early mornings. He never failed to accompany me. It was the only exercise for both of us. First few days I chained and took him with me. Afterwards I decided not to chain him. Caesar was free and walked along with me. He never bothered about the street dogs barking at him. If he went a few meters a head of me, he looked back to make sure that I was following him. The neighbors did not make any complaint whatsoever as he never howled or barked at any street dogs even though there were too many to attract his attention. He was a well-trained pedigree dog. My next door neighbor Mr. Fernandez was a few meters away since houses were not yet constructed on the three plots. Mr.Salim's family stayed behind my house. I came to know during the course of time that people from all religions stayed there. I was happy because it was a common factor in the army that bound us as Indians.

It was Christmas time. People decorated their rooftops with stars and serial lights and it was a sight for Gods. On a Sunday morning some of my colony children were playing cricket on the lane. I was happy to see them. But my servant was not happy about it as they broke one of my windowpanes while hitting a six in Dhoni's style. She shouted at them. I went out to see. All the boys had disappeared from the scene. 0nly I could see Edwin. He was the son of Mr. Fernandez. I called him into my house. We both took measurement of the windowpane. I gave him a hundred rupees to get the glass pane and all the necessary things to fix it. Within an hour he brought and we replaced the broken pane. We became friends. He invited me to his house for lunch. I told my servant that I was invited to Christmas Lunch whether I had to go or not. She said," you must go of your own and wish them happy Christmas and nobody will invite you for Christmas lunch". All the same I went to Mr. Fernandez's house. There I saw so many people, Mr. Salim , Mr.Singh and many of his colleagues. Edwin asked his father whether he acted as Santa Claus as usual. Mr. Fernandez told that Mr. George was Santa Claus that year. Edwin told us that he also acted as Santa Claus and gave gifts to the rag picker boy who lived in the slum near church. Mr.Frenandez was thrilled and appreciated his son for it. Edwin told that he had invited the boy for lunch. Mrs. Fernandez brought cool drinks for us. Meanwhile the boy appeared at the door and he was hesitating to enter the hall. Edwin went to him and shook hands with him and brought him in. We asked the boy his whereabouts. He narrated his story. He was also one of the victims of Tsunami. He became an orphan overnight. After lunch all the children went out to play.

We the elders decided to help that boy to come out of his slum life.

Mr. Fernandez readily agreed to give him his out house to stay. I told them that I had decided to give him the sport star bicycle which my son was using. Mr.Salim said that he would arrange a job for him with a news agent. The boy had to distribute News papers in the morning for a small salary. Mr. Singh said that he would try his level best to put him in a school..

I sent an e-mail to my wife as usual during the week-end.


"This summer I am not visiting u people in States as I have to attend an important marriage. Yes. Mr.Salim's daughter Noorjahan is getting married. From this U can see that I have well adjusted with the colony people and they are all kind and helpful. U asked me about the rag picker boy in your mail. Now he is well settled. Mr. Singh succeeded in his attempts. The Principal Bethany School not only agreed to him admission but also ordered for free fee concession. It's generous of him. In the mornings the boy distributes News papers to the colony people and then attends school. Mr. Fernandez treats him as one of his own children. If only each colony adopts one street child then we will not see any orphaned rag pickers. How is Scotch, my dear daughter's pet? Caesar is fine here The Vet gave him the anti-rabies shots yesterday. He accepted it without giving any trouble to me and the doctor Bye.

K Jambulingam"

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