Yarn it! Life & Style

Keep off my grass!

Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R Kumar  

You will agree that this behaviour of our neighbouring countries — inching into our hallways, finger by finger — is distinctly unneighbourly. It reminds me of my own neighbour.

‘Don’t mind…’ she said one day. I wondered if I should not mind that she accidentally poisoned my cat or that she backed into my car? Not mind what travesty she had already committed or what she was going to unleash? She put an end to my wondering. ‘The drilling for our new cabinets may continue till one o’clock. In the night. I hope you don’t mind.’

Being a docile sort, I invited her in, frothing over with many reasons why she should please (and I inserted a ‘please’ thrice) not bore holes into our common wall. ‘My baby will be asleep. My mother-in-law is sick. I have ringing in my ears already. My cat needs its beauty sleep.’

‘Oh, your cat!’ she simpered. ‘Such a sweet thing. I keep feeding it milk when I see it outside on the landing.’

I began to melt. Here she was full of the milk of human kindness towards my un-poisoned cat (how could I have ever entertained that baseless thought?) even as I refused her a bit of drilling.

She leaned in. ‘You know my carpenter is very hard-working. He can make the cheapest furniture for you. Save your family some money.’

How could I ever have misunderstood this large-hearted neighbour with her generous offers. My own carpenter charges an arm and a leg. For an armchair’s leg.

In fact, she’d been making regular inroads into my home, bearing cheap toys for my kids, a baby monitor because she said, ‘This monitor has an app to put your baby to sleep. Not that she disturbs me — just a little noise across the wall. What are neighbours for, after all?’

‘I thought the walls were thick, impenetrable,’ I said.

‘My dear, nothing stops me. I am interested in everyone’s domestic concerns. I hear everything you say, that baby monitor… You know that argument you were having with your husband last night? I am totally on your side.’

‘Thank you, that is very kind of you.’

‘Too kind. That is my fault, dear. I share my things with the whole world.’ She sneezed. ‘See now, this carpenter will break down the old cabinet and all that extra rotting wood — where will we dump it? You can keep it for some future use, it’s coming cheap after all…’

I gulped while she said, ‘I hope you don’t mind.’

The next morning, I knocked on her door. ‘Good morning,’ I wished her cheerfully. ‘Truly, no one appreciated your kindness. Someone who obviously spent half the night awake with the drilling noise, was so sleep-deprived this morning that they backed into your car. The headlights – smashed! Being a good neighbour, I came to tell you. I hope you don’t mind.’

Where Jane De Suza, author of Flyaway Boy, pokes her nose into our perfect lives.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 9:54:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/when-there-is-no-love-lost-between-neighbours/article32294149.ece

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