After the red rent sign had been posted for so long, my neighbor’s house finally got rented out.
I knew, because the sign was gone, as I passed by it at night, I saw the lights turned on, someone must have moved in, but who? When? I hold NO recollections.
Normally, when there are newcomers, there are huge moving trucks at the entrance of the street, couch, television, dining table, closets, the larger items would be moved off of the truck, piled up by the corner, then, moved one by one up the stairs, and, it would take up to two hours at a time for this process to be completed. Sometimes, after the moving trucks arrived, they’d have to have the neighbors move their cars, so they could park at the most convenient spot, and, oftentimes, during this, the sound of the engines, the scent of burning gasoline, and the hollering of the workers would bring a couple neighbors outside, and, as long as one of us discovered, it’s only a matter of time before we all know who moved in, when someone moved in quietly and undetected, this is a rarity, and, everybody would wonder, who moved in next door?
Every evening around 5 or 6, the garbage truck would ring the bell and go to every house to collect, and, this house always had ironclad gates, with absolutely NO movements, just from time to time, they’d have a small pile of garbage in plastic bags at the door, not knowing when it got put out, or who put it out. The only thing we’re all sure of is that someone DID live there.
As the day passes, the curiosities passed, we no longer guessed who this mysterious neighbor was, but, we’re all glad that it’s someone who was quiet that won’t holler in the middle of the nights, nor did they keep any pets that would bark all day long, and neither had they cooked smelly bean curd to stink up the neighborhood, it must be a family with self-controlled people, who’s well-behaved and well-taught, so, everybody thought.
One morning, right after the cleaning trucks had departed, the sound of the siren broke the silence, an ambulance from a nearby hospital came speeding into the alley, and the vehicle had parked right by our neighbor’s place, we were curious, we pulled the drapes back, and saw that the ambulance had parked at my neighbor’s doors, they had pulled up their steel doors completely, and, a gurney was hauled off the ambulance into the living room, then, pushed out from the leaving room, there was an elderly man, with nothing BUT skins and bones, curling on the gurney, with drip connecting to his body, and tube into his nose, followed by a young foreign help, and a man who looked like a housekeeper, as for the family, he only comes on weekends, to stay a short while, like he’s checking up on the elderly, and, only when the man was extremely ill or that he comes to check up does the younger man appear.
The sick man was completely reliant on the outside help, but, what do they do for their meals, nobody knows. Apparently, the patient needed 24-hour care, how did this foreign assistant manage to fix the meals? The younger family member does not live with him, making this home feel like a private hospice, with specific ward, professional caretaker, although without the paramedics, but, aren’t those regular hospices without too? Plus, this is a close place to the hospital, the ambulance can be on call, it is really convenient, seems like this family member had thought of everything.
If the ambulance comes once, it will come a second, a third time. And slowly, we’d all gotten used to the sounding off of the sirens, and we’d sometimes see the patient lying on the gurney, getting hauled in and out, the ten plus feet distance between the living room and the ambulance is the only place that light seeps through, the only place one can breathe in some fresh air, the rest of the time, was spent, lying inside, staring up at the light, listening to an odd melody, a weird sound, the music that sounded Indian or Muslim, with the repetition of the simple beats repeating, like the prayers of the believers, like a love song from a faraway land, near and far, coming from within the house.
The engine of the Hurst is turned off, the driver disappeared, and, everybody’s doors are opened, a woman in black, with a handkerchief in hand, sat on the couch and cried, two men stood in the room, one was leaning on the walls, the other was holding himself up with the door frame, talking about how to deal with the “untimely demise”, those you wanted to see but never had the chance of seeing when you’re alive are rushing in to say goodbye. Shortly, the body was carried out, the body was draped over by white cloth, and the shape of the body is barely visible, the gentle wind blew, with it, the cloth moved as well, those around are crying, pushed the corpse onto the Hurst. The family got on the car that they had drove here in, they’d all gone now. Pretty sure that they were all here to see him one last time, when he no longer needed to be cared for and about, the love for the family was once returned, they’re alleviated of their obligations, the memories of the times they’d shared come back to their memories, thinking that death is for real this time, the tears fell.
The love for family is measured this way, when parents looked after the offspring, they’d go through all the troubles, and when it came turn for the children to care for the elderly, it became reliant on whether or not it’s convenient. If nobody is available, then, someone is hired, to cry. Once the old man had fallen ill, the filial affiliations had stopped, and everything ceased functioning, love is gone, so is family, only those paid by the hour, when he no longer needed care, the power had been returned, and everybody comes back.
A few days that followed, more and more people came to this house, including the young guy, young boys and young girls came by to pay their final respects, the whispers and the footsteps from time to time gave life back into this household, turns out that he has a LOT of grandkids, only that he won’t be able to see them anymore. The garbage started piling up at the door, half-eaten meals, the diapers that the elderly used, the piss bucket, old clothes, all got thrown out, everything in relation to the man, was dispersed of, the reality isn’t as convenient as a computer, you just hit the “ delete button”, and you’re able to rid yourselves of things, you must throw the items out one by one, then, light that fire, when everything turned to ashes, then, it’s done.
This, is how death is “done”, after you’d rationed all the money you have to your children, they’ll leave you, and the only reason why they’re so nice to you is merely because you still have their “share” of inheritance, this IS really very sad………