It must have been around 8:35 am. As we walked out of the door, backpacks and school jackets flying, our next-door neighbours did too. A young couple, half of which I know slightly from my former Dal days. Our eyes caught, we half smiled and grunted Hi! Then the kids raced forward, and I raced after them. My mind was leaping and twisting.
Not to complain. Oh no, I am not complaining about my neighbours, specifically, whom I am sure are very nice people indeed. But would it be too much to have people who cared about me and my kids as neighbours? People whom I could ask to keep an eye on the kids while I raced to the superstore to pick up milk? People who came over and enjoyed playing a video game or three once a week or so with the Golden Boy? People who listened to the Princess playing the new song she’s been learning on the piano and told her it was beautiful? It would take ten minutes. Is this the moon that I am asking for? Do I have to travel halfway across the world and spend thousands of dollars on air tickets, every time I feel starved of affection, my children starved of attention? Is it too much, to have spontaneous visits, instead of all this damn scheduling and texting back and forth every time I want to see friends, or rather, “friends”? Would the world come an end, if a neighbour knocked on my door, and came around for a cup of tea? Does my son have to know how to videochat, to peer in a laptop to stare at faces a million miles away, to have somebody close by speak to him in a loving voice?
I assure you, Gentle Reader, that I have invited two neighbours over for tea. The first one cancelled on me twice, and later informed me she was going to New York, the second came over, had some tea, wouldn’t leave and kept on talking, ignoring the children who ignored him right back, until it was time to get dinner, the Golden Boy was hungry and was getting upset, the neighbour wouldn’t leave, eventually the neighbour left, we were relieved, socializing with said neighbour ceased. No neighbour has yet invited us. No neighbour ever will. They smell the homesickness and loneliness of the immigrant, and do not want it lingering on their clothes. I see my neighbours nuzzling their dogs with such affection, and then they pretend my children are invisible. Who are these people, with whom I share a building? Why are they afraid of us?