we all know them, either on a first-name basis or from the peculiar smell emanating from their homes. even if you avoid each other like the plague, you will still learn things about them over time. i have had the fortune of having neighbours who have added to the quality of my life. here are 2 stories i want to share.
on my left, and no longer living there, used to be an indian family. there were two boys around my age. the younger one was really friendly and he always had a smile ready. the older one was a real trouble-maker, according to my mum who got her correspondences from the mother of those boys. apparently, he was involved in gang activities and after he enlisted, he went absent without official leave and was later arrested. you get the idea.
because that son of hers was such a punkass, the mother always seemed to be angry with him. all day long we would hear shouting matches. it was like the crescendo of one of those tragedies on vasantham central with the volume amped up. it did not help matters that in order to provide for her 2 sons and her aging mother (who is no longer around), she had to work the graveyard shift at seagate. imagine coming home bushed from work and having to face more problems. even a fakir on his bed of nails would crack (the only reason why they are so zen-like is because they lead hermitic lives).
one fine day they moved away. there was no warning. they just disappeared. a while later we found out why, in the form of death threats (a nasty note, some hell money and a piece of the white patch the chinese wear on their sleeves while in mourning). the new family, who just moved in, got a bucket of red paint splashed all over the front gate, courtesy of the loansharks that the previous family borrowed from. my dad, being the great man of the house that he is, started telling us it’s no big deal and the loansharks were just trying to scare the neighbours into divulging information regarding their debtors’ whereabouts. he said it like it happened everyday. it was amusing. upon hindsight, i am just glad the loansharks didn’t hang a rotting pig’s head from the gate. that would have been quite a sight. we would have gotten the abattoir’s blues.
last i heard, that family had fled to malaysia, which in my opinion is far worse than being chased by loansharks.
the second story involves a filipino woman, a wooden stick and a deaf family. it was about 2 a.m. and i was lying in bed when i was rudely awakened by the incessant sound of knocking next door. at first i thought it came from the left (goody! the loansharks are back), but it turned out to be from the right. being the great man of the block that my was father is, he threw open the door and went out to investigate. i then heard him give a lady a scolding. apparently, the knocking was produced by a drunk neighbour whacking the gate of her own house with a wooden stick. she had forgotten her keys (or mistook it for peanuts at the bar) and was trying to get one of her family members to open the door. in fact, i am still truly amazed at how long it took for her family to hear her. maybe they all had their shure in-ear isolation earphones on, plugged into their ipods. maybe they didn’t want to hear her.
“where got people mother already then still go ‘cheong’ (paint the town red, oh! oh! RED!) and come home drunk at this kind of ungodly hour one? seow zha bau! (crazy woman)” – the response of my amused mother.
for more on my thoughts, click here.