Coincidental neighbors, I call them. They are positioned in their spots right across my kitchen door the moment I wake up in the morning, before I carry on with my daily grind, until the time that I have to go home again in the afternoon, exhausted from a long day at work. I didn’t know them personally, cannot even make out how each of them look like, all I know is that they have been there in that same spot for weeks now, perpetrating that piercing, mechanical noise that stirred me from my solitude.
Yes, my flat is a solitary space, I designed it to be like that. No TV, no loud speakers. And whenever I came home from school, the only sounds that will great me are the gentle humming of my fridge Pinkie, the occasional fluttering of my laundry hanging in my balcony or the banging of my kitchen door. Whenever I go home, I would then browse Youtube and play a familiar tune to keep the place more welcoming. Every day, I lived with this sense of familiarity, same, boring but familiar and comforting. Until one day, the hammering and the sound of soldering and welding of metal came in.
At first, they set up a tent of blue and gray colours with timber supporting what turned out to be silver-coloured, huge cylindrical beams. For whatever purpose they are, that I still have to know in the coming days. They are positioned in such a way that they are right across my room, and I have to close the curtains even when I want to have more light to come in! I always like to stare blankly in space, whenever I pause from whatever I am working or doing my PC, but with their presence, albeit its distance from my room, has been an effective distraction of my room and also a limitation of my personal space. I now got conscious that somebody would cast glances at me while I am doing stuff in my room.
These are one of the peculiarities living in a big city. You live in the upper floor but will still see men ‘flying’ on a crane as they fixed something above, men hammering and soldering right across the other building, as if they are in another world, minding their own business while you are also trying to contain your life, which now has been distracted with their presence. And, anonymity is in the air, I could only wonder what the names of these men are and what kind of life they lead after work. From what I reckoned, I believe they are in their prime, and a wife and kids could be waiting back home.
Whenever I started to imagine about their families, a dark thought would then come up. What if these men would meet an accident while at work? An error could send them plummeting to the tennis court down below. Or a hand could get stuck inside those equipment! Yet, whenever I come home every afternoon, the usual, normal scene would flash in front of me. No accidents, no drama, no sight of falling men or injured men. As if I am watching a scene in a movie, except that there is no soundtrack or dialogues that can be heard.
And so, I go one with my musings, I tried to look at them at my window one more time and, once again, got surprised whenever a new installation would be arise. And then, I would play a familiar grunge music on Youtube, ready to live in the trivialities of life, a loop that would, from to time, get broken by an unfamiliar object in the neighborhood, kids shouting downstairs and this intermittent mechanical sounds, that hopefully would end soon.