JUNE 11 — Screams of “Haaareeesshhh!” woke me up from deep sleep early Saturday morning.
I rushed out of bed only to see my neighbour Aunty Kim in the house as my mum was seated at the porch with blood oozing from her right foot.
“Sudah kena paku lah,” Aunty Kim said.
“Cepat bawa mama pergi klinik.”
Mum, being the superwoman she is, coolly washed the blood off her foot. She did say she was feeling a little woozy as I handed her a glass of orange juice while cleaning up her wound. All went well as she was later given a tetanus jab by the doctor at the nearby clinic. She kept herself busy as soon as we got home.
Her obsession of getting fresh serai (lemon grass) growing wildly at a plot of land near our place earlier that morning proved painful as a rusty nail punctured her foot. But it was Aunty Kim who came to the rescue. She had immediately rushed to my mum’s aid and held my mum as they made their way to our home.
We have been blessed with good neighbours — from our days in Pekeliling flats to our current residential area.
My Malay neighbours, who live on our right, have no qualms with our pet dog, admitting they feel safer with it around. Aunty Kim and her family treat us almost like family and this can be seen especially during Chinese New Year and the mooncake festival where we would often sit outside our houses, yacking about politics to community issues that affected us.
We lead busy lives but that has not stopped us from exchanging pleasantries and catching up after a long day at work.
The same picture is often seen each time I return to my hometown in Taiping. Neighbours there know each other so well that they also know their respective extended family members.
Does it border to being, as the Chinese would say, “kepoh” (busybody)? Perhaps.
But it’s a good kind of kepoh, the one that would see your neighbour running out to your aid during times of need.
Sadly, many especially urbanites, do not enjoy such a close relationship with those living around them.
“We get up so early and head back home really late. Our doors are often closed and at times we don’t even know who is living next door,” admitted Alice, who lives in Pantai, or as some call it Bangsar South.
“But you also get snobbish neighbours. If so rich and famous why stay here, go live in a bungalow in Kenny Hills lah.”
Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said it is high time to reactivate the neighbourhood concept where communities bonded closely with each other.
“It’s sad that people these days use the excuse of wanting to make more money but tend to forget about those around them. Most of us tend to take our neighbours for granted,” said Lee.
“It’s so important to know your neighbours especially with the Hari Raya celebration coming up. At least we can look out for each other.”
He said many tend to make up excuses for not even attending the annual residents’ association meetings.
Lee pointed out this was not a problem in the outskirts.
“Criminals will think twice before committing crime as people generally know each other in smaller towns. But in big towns, you tend to get people barricading themselves within, building high retaining walls. Many remain aloof.”
In short, Lee said appreciating neighbours would go a long way.
And he is right in every sense.
I feel for those who are stuck with bad neighbours who only think about themselves and are faced with petty issues — from the constant barking of their dogs, to storing discarded tyres and rubbish in front of their gates.
There are also neighbours who prefer to park their vehicles everywhere else but in their porch.
But there are those who take the initiative to forge a better relationship with their neighbours. According to Poskod.my, Teh Chi-Chang, the Councillor for Zone 5 Petaling Jaya (which covers SS21 and SS22) organised a neighbourhood party for the residents of Damansara Jaya on February 15. The party was to “give residents an opportunity and reason to come out and mingle with each other and build a community spirit.”
It makes a whole lot of difference if we were to be more concerned about those living around us. A simple smile or a hello could go a long way.
This may sound petty to some but at least I am comfortable knowing that my neighbours have my back when I am not around. It’s a feeling money cannot buy.
** This is the personal opinion of the columnist.