The man across the street - The Man Across the Street

3rd of May 2010 0

The Man Across the Street

Would you believe it, if I say it’s been twenty years I stay here. In this elderly house. I, myself, wonder how come I don’t die until now? I swear to God I don’t have any formula to have a long live or pray for it at night. On the other hand, I want to die soon. I want to get out of this lousy world. Nothing is fun for me anymore in this world. All my friends are gone. I have suffered three times of stroke and also three times of heart attack. When the second heart attack happened, the docter estimate the third attack will bring me to the final. But he was wrong. I stay alive. My kids and grandchildren were greatful for me staying alive -that’s according to them. But I think they never really greatful for me living, since I’ve always been dumped to this cursed place. I hate it here. Gathered with a bunch of old people whose casted by their families. To be honest, I’m expecting my fourth heart attack and being taken by the angel of death. I want to be rested on my last rest, be maked up and be formalined and I want people to give me thir last honor. I want to be cremated like my friends, I also want my ashes to be pour on the sea as my husband’s and my son’s ashes more than ten years ago. I’m too old, I’m now 101 years old. I am the longest patient who lives in this elderly house. Of course, I’m also the oldest. Most of the patients here live up to their eighties, that’s good enough. After that, no more soul to keep them alive.

What I do now is just sit and remain quiet in this wheelchair while watching the house across the street. My room is in the second floor, the window face to a-not-so-big-front yard of this elderly house. Houses across this bulding are mostly big and tall. Rich people’s houses. Most of them use lots of glasses so people outside can see what’s in it. It’s like inviting the rober; what kind of stuffs he can rob in it. But they have securities as well to watch after their house 24 hours a day. Unlike ancient rich houses, tall and thick walls that built in layers of concrete bricks are surround them. Makes it hard if thieves want to break through.

This last two years a man who used to seems busy with his bussiness, sudenly cant move. I used to watch him suited up with a suitcase he always carried everywhere he goes, now he just wear pajamas and -same as me-, just sit in a wheelchair with a nurse takes care of him in day time. I think he has a stroke and almost paralize his whole body. The man’s room is on the second floor, the walls are made of glasses. The whole curtain are sometimes open to let the sun shine gets in and the man will expose his body to the sun. There’s a curtain that always open a little bit so that I can see him from where I’ve been.

I like to watch the man across the street. I think he’s in his sixties, same age as my third kid. When he started to ill I notice his face and body becomes aging compare to when he was okay. I can watch him for hours, especially when he stays near his wide glassy wall with open curtain. At first, I was the person who watch him, this activity has become my entertainment. But then, he watches me back. Yes, I’m sure of that. I was lonely, and now I feel I have a friend. I think he feels the same. I feel I can speak just about anything to him. I tell him about my kids and grandchildren who do not often visit very me, and also about how I longing to die. I complain a lot, and I think he’s a good listener. In the beginning, I know he didn’t like me wathcing him, but not much a disable man can do about it. He cant move away from his glassy wall until the nurse moves his wheelchair. Then I feel he starts to talk to me to, a lot…; of his work, of his life before he was ill, of his family. I listen to him. We introduce ourselves and communicate in a strange way. It’s a bit hard to explain. Even when one of us is moved by the nurse whether to eat or to take medicine or anything, I feel that we want to get back as soon as possible to the same place, headed outside our rooms so that we can see each other and start to converse again.

“Grany Yasmin, you should take your medicine now.” This woman is Ros, she is a nurse here. She asks me to open my mouth so she can put the pills on it and hand me a glass of water to push the pills in to my body. I do as she says. “Would you like to go to the back yard?” I shake my head after I swallow those pills. She smiles, then she sees across the street where the man stay still on his wheelchair. “Is that your friend?” she asks. I grab her hand, I pull her to near her ear to my lips.

“I can talk to him,” I shortly whisper. The voice of me sounds hoarse. I thought, would she believe it? She smiles.

“Of course,” she says, then walks out of my room. I knew she wouldn’t believe it. Probably Ros thinks I’m a little old crazy lady. Whatever!

The man across the street has three grandchildren, as far as my observation. Every morning, before his grandchildren go to school, they kiss him. So does a man who seems to be the father of the three children, I think he is the man’s son. His son’s wife will take him to the front door, kiss his cheek before he goes. The wife does not often being at home, she will go as soon as his husband out. Leaving the man with a nurse, a security guard, a house keeper and a gardener. Me, I have fourteen great-grandchildren, seventy grandchildren, and eight kids –one of them had passed away-. They put me in this elderly house. They only visit me on particular days. They used to visit me on D-day of holiday, whether it’s Easter, Christmas, my birthday, or new year. But after several years of my living here, their schedule of visiting me seems to not become their routine anymore. Once, they used to visit me on the D-day, now it changes in to a day after D-day, then third day after D-day, and now it becomes a week after D-day. The don’t even visit me at all for new year.

“Grany Yasmin, look whose here,” Ros saying with a happy voice. Today my grandchildren come. It was Easter a week ago. To be honest, I do not feel too pleased. Ros pushes me to the back yard and says, “today, you absent to talk to the man across the street, okay?” They bring me chocolate cake. Yes, I like chocolate. But my grandchildren do not really give me attention. They have their own little picnic, then tell each other stories of their last year’s vacation abroad or out of town. They think I do not pay attention or even deaf, well they all are wrong. I know every word they say. But I don’t have enough energy to yell at them and to say how they do not polite to forget me in purpose. I just wish I can die soon. It’s so sucks! They go home when the sun down to the West.

Next day, I run my day as usual, sit in my room and looking out of window. The man across the street asks why I did not show up yesterday, he thought I was dead. I say, how lucky I am if I really dead because yesterday was my jinx day…, my family visited me! Then I long complain to him of my sucks family.

I see it’s been several days the nurse don’t come to take care of the man across the street. His daughter-in-law takes charge. I don’t like her, says the man when he tells his story by his look. He explains that she doesn’t have enough capacity to accept troubles he causes of his illness. Yes, I also see so. She gets upset when he throws up or having wet pants. I can see on his face, she really is an unpleasant personality. I’m hoping the nurse will go back to take care of him. Days are pass, but the nurse does not come. Maybe the nurse resign and they don’t get the replacement yet.

One afternoon, in our conversation, I fell like the man asks me what if he pass away before me. I say, he cant do that! I enlist myself to go out of this world first, so he cant die before me. Beside, if he die first, who will be my friend? This elderly house is no fun at all. But, he says, he feels like he’s going to die soon. I asks, if he feels his health gets worse or something. No, he replies, not about his health, although he feels no meaning advance of it, he feels his bad temper daughter-in-law will kill him in near time. I don’t believe it, of course. I’m sure his daughter-in-law doesn’t have a will to kill him. But he’s so sure of it. He asks me to watch over him from distance, even at night. He wants me to keep staring at him, so I can be a witness if needed. It’s a deal, but not to be a witness. It’s to proof that we really have been chated for the last two years.

When Ros comes to bathe me in the evening, I say, “I don’t want to sleep in bed. I want to stay on my wheelchair until morning,” my voice sounds haltingly. Ros doesn’t approve my willing, she thinks I need rest. Then I say, “the man across the street will die. He probably will be killed, I must look after him.” Ros is staring at me with her distrust look.

“Grany Yasmin, you never really talk to that man. You better get some rest,” she keeps washing my body with wet towel.

“I want to stay here!” The voice that comes out of my throat is squeaking. My unperfect motoric movement makes me can only stamp, but it’s enough to make Ros jumping backward and droping the water from the basin. Finally, Ros gives up. I spend my day and night sitting on my wheelchair and staring the house across the street for several days. Nothing’s happen, I start to think, maybe Ros was right, maybe I was halucinating of talking with the man across the street. Until one night, I see the man’s daughter-in-law come to his room. She pulls the blanket up to his body. Sit on the bed side. It is not a usual view since the days before she never waited the man to fall asleep. My eyes are heavy when I see her stand up of the bed side. I thought she’s going to go out the room, but she didn’t. She takes a pillow that’s not used by the man, then she covers the man’s face with that pillow. I shock, try to scream but no voice comes out of my mouth, only squeaking sound. I try to reach a bell-button to call the nurse, but it’s too far. I don’t have enough energy to push my wheelchair. There’s nothing I can do, I panic alone and cry soundlesly. I get tired. I close my eyes and continue crying on my wheelchair. I curse the world and myself for not being able to do anything. Next thing I know, I wake up when the sun shine peeping by the window.

That day, I wait the man as usual. I hope what I saw last night was just a dream. But no sign of him. A tend is put on in front yard of the house across the street, chairs are arrange neatly, sympathy flowers are delivered to that house. Then, I see people start to come. That moment I realize; I wasn’t dreaming. It wasn’t a dream at all. That woman really killed him, his daughter-in-law. She acts as if she’s in a deep condolence in her black dress.

“Grany Yasmin, your friend…, the man across the street…” Ros cant continue her sentence, her face turns pale, she looks worried. I nod a little…, I cant say anything anyway.

God damned, now I am all alone again. I have no one to talk to. Not anymore. It’s been more that twenty years I live here, I am now 101 years old. Next month, if I still alive, then I wil be 102 years old and I’ve witness a murder. Would you believe it?


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