Hemmed in by two contrasting neighbors, I am blessed with my neighbor on my left but, alas, cursed with my neighbor on my right.
Both neighbors are offsprings, as I am, of the original owners of the houses we now occupy.
The house (of my late parents) where I reside is one half of a duplex, the other half occupied by my neighbor to my left. The house of my neighbor on my right is one half also of a duplex, the other half occupied by my brother-in-law.
Kung hindi ko sasadyain, I don’t normally see my neighbor on my left although at times we talk on the phone or meet, by chance, on the street, while I almost daily see my neighbor on my right because our houses are separated only by a waist-high concrete bakod.
God’s commandment to “… love thy neighbor…” is easy to follow, comes naturally, with my neighbor on my left.
I and my ‘left’ neighbor grew up together, are friends ever since and became even closer when the dusky lass two houses away (who kept on asking me to do her projects and reports) and I got married; as the missus and our ‘left’ neighbor got to be really good friends in fair and foul weather, a “you-can-cry-on-my-shoulder” friend to one another.
But above all else, my ‘left’ neighbor treats us – as we likewise treat her – like how one should treat a neighbor. not intruding, fairly and at all times, being considerate.
My neighbor to my right, alas!, again, is something else!
To picture my ‘right’ neighbor is to picture other neighbors being complained about during our weekly (Sunday) barangay Lupon hearings (of which I am a member).
The joke among us Lupon members is that without these ‘colorful’ neighbors life in the barangay would be blah.
Examples. Your might have a neighbor who parks his car right infront of your gate knowing fully well this will inconvenience you, more so if you have your own car to park or drive out from your garage; who keeps his karaoke music (noise, more like it) blaring well into the very late hours of the night; who engages in drunken revelry, also well into the night, with fellow soused, at the drop of a hat; who spreads gossips and slanderous remarks across fences before but now posts in the Internet, Facebook and other electronic gadgets, because of envy you are getting ahead and because of favors asked but not given, or because of just plain maliciousness.
In every case of spats between neighbors, the barangay Lupon would always remind contending parties that, in all probability, they will be together as neighbors for a long time, if not forever, and it would be best to talk things over. Compromise, magbigayan. if it’s the maid passing off those unsavory remarks, send the dh back to the mountains. if it’s the neighbor coveting his neighbor’s wifey or hubby, do not go into a killing spree or monumental tantrum, and just hand over the coveted wifey or hubby. like the dh, they are not worth keeping.
It’s quite hard “…to love thy neighbor…” in my case. I keep in mind na lang what we preach at the barangay hearings. So, I play it cool. I kept mum when my ‘right’ neighbor went around blaming me for losing twice – or is it thrice – in his bid for a slot in the barangay council. Without a word, I pick up flower pots mysteriously broken and dirt scattered on my side of the fence. Silently, I mend broken fences, literally; I ignore the nauseous smell of manure from his chicken coops (which would have caused raucous shouting matches had I not been able to rein in the missus every time.)
Tanggap ko na that you can’t choose your neighbors.and as my barber says, malas ko lang…
Sometimes, things do not turn out well, however, even if we have our choices, like during elections. it seemed we always make bad choices, but then my barber says that ‘s another story, and what a lot he has to say about it.
Photo: “Across the fence” by tonp, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved