Monday, October 17, 2005

love thy neighbor (a tenant's woes part 2)

i think my neighbor may be the quintessential kept woman. querrida. kabit. number 2. the Enemy.

i don't know her at all which i admit would make most of my assumptions cruelly unfair and biased, as i have gathered them only through observation. i don't even have to eavesdrop even if i was compelled to since usually her conversations are for everyone to hear, though not fit for all to be heard. she's unapologetically loud which makes me sometimes wonder if we had actually made a mistake and had moved into a typical slum area in a lino brocka movie.

i cringe at the way she verbally abuses her maid who also doubles as her child's yaya. if i were to treat the caregiver of my child that way, i don't think i would dare leave my child with that caregiver.

she gives off the impression that she is fearless and will not hesitate to engage anyone in a fight. and i have witnessed this quite a number of times as she haggles for a little consideration with the meralco guy who's tasked to cut off the electricity of customers who were not able to settle due accounts .

but all this changes once the regular "visit" is made - from tigress she transforms into the docile kitty or pussy, if you must. mr. man who we have tagged as "tulfo" (because of the his resemblance), is every bit the stereo type man-with-kept-woman. he answers his cellphone outside of their unit, quickly looking for a quiet spot where he can speak loudly so as to drown out domestic noise from the neighboring units. he arrives usually late in the afternoon or early evening. he is also a bit loud, with the kind of cock-sure bravado of a middle-aged man (she is half his age) who has been around. he stays for a while, but never sleeps over. comes over almost everyday but never on weekends. which is a shame, coz i wonder if he knows her like we "do"?

she is not close with any of the other occupants, but seems quite tight with the owner of these units, who was an entertainer in japan but had settled down with a japanese national. i notice that we have all decided to tolerate her and sometimes engage in a bit of small talk with her - one which she would initiate. otherwise, it would just be perfunctory nods and inaudible greetings thrown her way.

the truth is, i kinda feel sorry for her sometimes. it's quite a sad life, i guess. day in, day out it's just her, their child and the maid. and a few moments of 'borrowed" time with mr. man.

i wonder if sometimes i should extend my pinky of friendship (to offer my hand may be a bit too much). if only to teach her that "h" is not pronounced as "etch".


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