The colony was a mini India. People of all states lived in Harmony. The year was 1960 when the bell first tolled in the colony. Church bells are sometimes rung slowly (tolled) when a person dies or at funeral services and could be heard all over the neighborhood. Every subsequent year marked a death and the Bells tolled. It was 1965 when ‘Death’ was the topic on every tongue. Strange as it may sound it got all worried and all wondered who next.
Elders decided to call for the services of a Priest from the local church and bless all homes. Summer of 1965 saw the introduction of the Rosary. Kids ensured their presence at the prayer as it was followed by a pocketful of boiled grams and a month end party that marked the culmination of prayer.
That year no one died. The following year too community prayers were held and no one died. All thought the spell had ended.
The city was at war with itself. A section of society was being targeted. Neighbors began shifting homes to new ghettos. It was the last year of community prayers. That year too no one died and the following year there was no one to lead the Prayer.
31st December of the following year, kids with a few elders were busy erecting the Star of Bethlehem and the traditional ‘Old Man’ on the terrace. One of the kids mentioned that the year passed without a death. An elder reminded there was still 9 hrs to go. Suddenly there was an eerie silence.
The tolls man of the local church dropped by to meet one of the residents. Having spent some time with them he departed. As he left their home, instead of descending, he ascended towards the terrace. It was at the terrace landing that his body was discovered.
The children had finished filling the belly of the ‘Traditional Old Man’ with crackers and mini bombs. In the midst of the cacophony, the tolls man asleep did not awake. The elders tried to awaken him and realized he was no more. Death had struck once again. News spread like wildfire…. A pall of gloom descended over the colony. All wondered for whom will the bell next toll.