Do You Still Have A Neighbour?

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Good neighbours are hard to find, if you have one, keep them.
I was discussing with a childhood friend and we couldn’t help but try to recall our memories of good neighbourliness while we were growing up.  I recalled how we walked to school together and sometimes had to help with taking along our neighbours younger children ; how we ensured that the children had food to eat if their parents were not home when we returned from school.

Neighbours of old travelled and entrusted their children to the care of one another and they came back to meet their children as good as they would have cared for them. We recalled that as teenagers, we played a game to serve each other on weekly basis; that involved doing light laundry, taking the skinned beans  to the neighbourhood mill for grinding, taking our shoes for polishing and ironing our school uniforms.  

Four of us who were age-mates and in same form in school didn’t have to take our separate home lessons, but had combined classes as agreed by our parents.  We learned together happily and it was cost-effective for our parents.  We borrowed from each other’s library and it ensured that we tasked ourselves on the books we read.

We didn’t count the number of times that a neighbour came to ask for salt or a box of matches.  Neighbours who couldn’t afford a refrigerator did have to suffer, because they freely stored their pots of soups or stews in another neighbour’s.

The young children had ‘mothers’ in women other than their biological mothers because the women didn’t hesitate to correct the children when they erred.  Older women helped nurse babies of younger women before the arrival of their family members. It was all about community living with love.

Gradually, we saw how situations changed; rather than community living which saw people caring for one another, we started seeing isolation.  Today, families hardly interact. Not only are the houses ‘gated’ so high, the people themselves are total strangers to themselves! It is ‘killing’ to see neighbours keep straight faces when they see themselves in the morning. Yes, it is happening today.

My friend sighed as we were talking. She didn’t want to go into many details, but she managed to mention that two of her neighbours in a house next to hers had been ‘visiting’ the police over a heated argument. One neighbour had gone to ask the other to come and remove his car to enable him drive out early one morning, the other  thought that the manner of approach was rude and demanded an apology. By the time wives of both men came into the picture, everything turned sour. The police had to intervene after windscreens were smashed.  

Arguments are that some neighbours have been instrumental to attacks against their neighbours, while some others have been accused of abusive tendencies towards young children. I am sure that asking a neighbour for salt or even water today would be the ‘strangest’ and most suspicious thing to try.  Our fears have changed and each person thinks that the other is bad.  But if one good person makes a good neighbour, then good people in society will make the good community that is so desired.