The school bus is late as usual. Your younger son is fidgeting – he wants to chase pigeons, but you don’t let go of him because you know you how long it would take to catch him once he is off.
The slightly toothless gardener comes up and talks to your son – you translate your son’s reply back to him. Just something you do everyday, but now you can’t get the thought out of your head – is he the one?
The drivers waiting around in their polished cars are friendly enough. Sometimes they even let your son play around with the windshield wipers and the hazard lights. You try not to catch their eye, because you are not sure if you want to have to smile back at them – could any of them be the one?
The security guards are more than just that – they are lifesavers. Without them giving you moral support, could you have managed to compose yourself enough to gently instruct your older son on how to unlock himself out of the room he’d locked himself into. And what about the time your younger son ran off, and the security guard found him hiding behind the slide. But now you suspect every one of them – could one of them be the one?
Last Friday was a national holiday, and practically everyone had taken a mini-break over the extended weekend. Saturday morning, we got the news that three flats had been broken into. Nothing much was stolen – just a couple of bottles of liquor and some small silver items on display – just the kind of stuff you are mentally prepared to lose everytime you hand over the house keys to the domestic help. What was worrying was that all three flats were on floors that were totally unoccupied.
It had to be an inside job. It had to be someone who knew which flats were empty and which were occupied. Someone who had seen families drive off, and had been able to estimate which floors had occupants and which did not. Someone who had intimate knowledge of the residents of the building. Someone who’s presence would not have been questioned if he was caught hanging around while to assess the situation.
It could be anyone – the delivery boys from the grocery store around the corner, the sweepers, any of the servants, the security guard, the drivers, the gardener, the guy who took the clothes for ironing. But it had to be someone we knew.
And since we do not know who it is, we suspect everyone. After all, what do we really know about any of the people, except the fact that they are a part of our physical and mental landscape?
That is the worst part about this thing called Trust. You give it easily, but when your faith is shaken, it takes so long to get it back. So the innocent suffer much more than the guilty
The school bus comes. The gardener stands next to you and waves goodbye to the son. You talk to him about the lilies he has just planted – you are interested in what he has to say, even if you are the only resident in the entire building who is. But you are not as animated as you normally would be while discussing gardening plans.
You know this atmosphere of mistrust will not go on forever. You know that you will just start taking additional precautions, and go back to being your normal cordial self. You know that, and yet you wonder if things will ever be the same again.
That funny thing called Trust!