My neighbor across the street is a widow, at least for one last year. She has a daughter whom she said never care, she has a son in law who disrespected him and is a pain in the arse.
I personally agree with the last statement, so do my neighbors on the left and on the right, all three families who consider our block just about perfect if not for that small house across.
Whenever there is problem, whenever there are ripples in our small block, it would come from her runny mouth.
When Americans complained heavily about Sean Spicer, or Kellyanne Conway, or Steve Bannon, we lived with three of them, in one person, every day, for years. We are not surprised of what all three are already, or capable of doing, we are surprised that such character can find their way to a respected seat in the world.
She has uric acid problem, she has difficulties walking that she told everyone about, but which won’t hinder her for picking her staff to creep a few ten feet away, scanning the community garden and ordered our gardeners to get her some vegs or fruit when we are not around.
If we overheard what she said, or our gardeners ask for our consent, we’d give, always, but her response would be a cold and short “thank you”.
The next day, she’d make up stories about how she got the vegetables and then the people who listen to her would look at our houses funny, before shaking their head. In the afternoon, those people, or their family, or their friends, would come with a little money or other vegetables or fruits, and she would offer them prayers. May their house be abundant, may health be with them always, may they live long and prosper.
She would offer me the same prayers, over and over, if I send dishes her way when no one is looking.
At night, she would creep out after everyone was gone; with small, or a little bigger plastic bag. She would hang her garbage on our fences, or throw it into our yards, so that the garbage guy would pick it up along with ours, and that she doesn’t have to pay. Before that, however, we would have to pick whatever garbage scattered all over our yards, those flown away as she flung her untidy bag over our fences.
Every morning, every day, we tried our best to stay silent for years. That is Asian manners, though one day I championed a resistance movement by picking up every single bits of uneaten rotten food, slimy rice black with fungus, rubbish and all, put it back into the bag and hand it back to her, personally, in broad daylight, publicly.
“You dropped these, maam. Must have flown here, who knew how, last night”
Of course she made a very loud statement about my rudeness and my disrespect toward a poor, elderly widow, but I can tell the truth from the smiles our spectators had on their faces. They lived with her longer than I.
A few days, I saw that both my other two neighbors done the same.
She would then hold on to her ballistic until the garbage truck came and ask the guys politely if they want to pick it up since she does not have money to pay for their service.
I was picking up stuffs like diapers and new bottle of Ringer in my studio when I heard her conversation with her son in law, this morning. She is so very loud, everyone in the whole mountain can hear her when she speaks.
“Put that in the bag and throw it to Neng” she ordered. “Neng” is how Sundanese call girls and young women. “If it’s cats, dump it on her”
This is the woman I have been spending money to feed because I feel sorry for her: all alone, old, sick, abandoned by family.
I guess smiley praises never hide an ugly heart.
I saw that son in law, with a big garbage bag, crossing that small street and put it right under my fence.
I walked out of the house, stepped over the wiggling garbage bag, and to the next door neighbor. She had asked me to help her pick up her daughter’s tab from repair, all the way, glaring at their flabbergasted face.
They never thought I’d caught them red handed.
Still, she mustered enough nerve to make up stories.
My neighbor heard her babble, and asked me what was going on. I showed her the wiggling bag under my fence and without me requesting, she slain the (not so) poor woman.
My neighbor told me to return the cat, which the old woman threatened will be thrown to the veg field.
I can’t. I can see it in the cat’s eye he is in extreme pain.
But if I don’t do that, everyone will just follow her example and dump whatever cats, dead or alive, under my fence. All over again.
I told everyone that I will feed the cat and offer some drink, after which the cat has to go. It’s fake, but convincing, and valid. I am not dumping ground and I do not appreciate the exact word she spat, which I repeat verbatim.
Both hicks turned crimson.
My neighbor said it downright that she is shameless, and that her son in law is an un-welcomed redneck garbage of society who should just go away because no one in the block wants him. He lives yards away uphill but he come often, eyeing for the piece of land that would be the woman’s inheritance for his family.
When no one is looking, I slip the writhing cat inside.
He was very badly dehydrated. It’s so hard just to pinch his neck to get some fluid in, but we ended up spending the whole bottle until he feels a little bit better.
He couldn’t stand, he was all stiff, he screamed in pain, but he couldn’t get his voice out.
I gave him Clavamox, I gave him vitamins, supplements, transfer factor, I checked for maggots, I cleaned his nose.
Just when I squatted with a plate of warm wet food, he lifted his head with so much difficulties and slammed it in, licking here and there like kitten dunk their heads into their food.
Then he go back writhing again like dying worm under the heat.
I deny it, but I knew.
I try alternative facts, but I knew.
So I gave him as much food as he wants, I lift him up so he can eat without mopping food all over the place, I clean him up afterwards.
And then I lift him up, carrying him like a toddler, his cheek to mine.
Then I sang him a lullaby.
Then I rocked back and forth for a while.
And I am glad we don’t have to watch each other faces, because I wouldn’t know how to convey my sorrow for failing him.
On the last tune, my tear dropped.