In my childhood, I remember seeing my father going around the neighbourhood so as to know about the welfare of the people living in our locality. I also remember playing cricket with the mohalla boys for hours together and watching my father play chess in his leisure time with his neighbourhood friends. On Sundays, especially, there used to be a heavy rush of people to our house for we were the only household in the neighbourhood to own a television set. Our house would seldom be lonely as we would have relatives, friends and neighbours visiting us throughout the week.
In those days, if anyone bought a chicken in our neighbourhood, they would call upon my father to slaughter it and my father would also go to each and every household on Eid-Ul-Adha to recite the mandatory Niyyat before the sacrifice. There was a high social bonding among the people in our neighbourhood and people would respect each other in the true spirit.
In those days, the standard of living was not the priority of the people. Instead people believed in family values and harmony. Neighbours would love and care for each other. In fact such was the bonding that neighbours were as close as family members. People, despite their social status, would find helping hands both in times of need and in joy. In the evenings, there used to be dars-e-quran (teaching of the Quranic verses) in the mohalla masjid from maghrib to Isha. Almost every young child of the locality attended these gatherings in order to learn more about their religion.
Sala’h was an imperative component of the society, so willingly or coercively, everyone would flock to the local masjid to offer it. The local pandith families living around us too were loved as much as the local Muslims. They not only took part in our celebrations but would eagerly wait for them. We too would celebrate their festivals with equal joy and zest. In those days if someone didn’t see their neighbour for a day or two, they would visit his or her house to make sure everything was ok.
A marriage in the neighbourhood meant the whole locality would spent days preparing for it and a death in the neighbourhood meant every household would be in mourning. But as they say good things seldom last forever. As time passed by, people started migrating to the urban areas, some for better education of their children, others due compulsion and some for better life style. Materialism grew and slowly people only started thinking about themselves and their own needs. The love that we shared for another became shrouded in selfishness.
Nowadays, the entire scenario of our localities has changed. Today people mostly stay indoors. No one bothers about anyone else. In fact some of us don’t even know our neighbours. Individualism has taken over our very lives and the compassion and care that we shared for others, no longer exists. In our hurry to be wealthy, we have forgotten that joy can’t be derived from being greedy and selfish. True joy and happiness can only be derived from helping and caring about one another. Let us all try and bring back those golden days when we shared each other’s pains and joys. Let us once again bring back love and compassion into our world.
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