Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What are neighbours for?

Nothing. They are disappointingly selfish too. I was already wasn't so hopeful about having helpful neighbours. An incident last year proved this.

Hoe had problems with our house lock and could not unlock the door when he tried to enter the house.  I was out then.  All he could think of was to contact me and having no handphone or a single cent, he tried frantically to borrow a phone from someone in the condo where we stayed.

He only sought out help from two places in our condo and gave up after the fruitless attempts. First, at the mini market located at the ground floor of our condo. The old lady (the boss' mother), in her late 70's who was manning the counter at that time was adopting a 'don't care-less' attitude. In an unconvinced attitude, she said her phone was spoilt and suggested Hoe to talk to her son who was in another room in the mini market at that time. Hoe was,of course, reluctant and left the mini market without even approaching the man.

The second place Hoe went to was our neighbour staying at the same floor. The owners of the unit were an old couple in their early 60's. The lady is a retiree who had a stroke a few months ago which left her with speech problems.  Prior to this incident and her stroke, she was kind of friendly whenever we met in the lift.  I don't doubt that she recognises Hoe as a next-door neighbour.  Well, this incident proved her self-centredness despite her stroke condition.

As Hoe related to me how he approached this old couple, it just pissed me off even more.  He told me he was standing at the door explaining to the uncle that he needed to borrow a phone to contact me.  The stroke-stricken lady was in the living room, not only did not help. She yelled quite audibly 'don't care about him' to her husband at the door.  The man then walked back into the living room, ignoring Hoe.

Having no choice, Hoe waited for me for two hours before I finally reached home.  He was too exhausted and starving by then.

After hearing his story, I was furious and pissed off. Not satisfied with just grumbling to Hoe and Wyng about our selfish neighbours, I proceeded to confront the couple. The husband appeared lackadaisical (as he always does whenever we meet at the lift prior to the incident) and gave excuse that he didn't know my son when I demanded an explanation. Do you need to know someone to help them? 

Being very blunt, I went on to say that Hoe is just a boy who needed help and would have no intention to harm anyone. How could a helpless and hungry twelve-year old boy harm anyone? I didn't wait for an explanation from him.  From the living room, I heard the old lady trying to murmur something and she was trying to signal that she didn't know what happened and that she couldn't speak or do much.  All of a sudden, she appeared to be so feeble when she was just yelling at the top of her voice earlier! Talking about self-pity.

I walked off, relieved that I had said what I wanted to.

I didn't approach the mini-market's boss' mother. They will never get any business from me from that moment onwards.  Even if I have to drive a few miles away to get a grocery item, I swear I will never buy anything from them.  That old lady who used to portray a very friendly and kind person whenever I patronised her mini-market was in fact a hypocrite, all for the name of business.

This incident left me an impression that people, worse still neighbours can be so cold-hearted and self-centred especially in a situation when their help is needed.  They conveniently forget the meaning of giving just because they do not want to lose.  Or are they so negative that helping may land them in trouble or become poorer? But, it would only probably be 50 sen that they may be losing by offering to lend a kid a telephone or handphone.

So, what are neighbour truly for? Just to smile, say 'Hi' and 'Bye' and nothing else? One wonders.

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