Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The balcony

My favorite spot in the apartment is my balcony; on a warm-ish day, I can hang up my laundry, get a bit of morning sun, sip a cup of freshly brewed jasmine tea, and watch the people, my neighbors, go about their business, not to mention peer over and see how messy the first floor neighbors' backyard extensions are. Yesterday morning, I spent a good thirty minutes soaking in some needed Vitamin D, and wondering about the people in my neighborhood. There's the older couple, perhaps 60 or so, relatively healthy, but getting on in years. The man brushes and waxes a pair of shoes, his wife folds his quilted jacket sleeves up so they don't get streaky with black shoe polish. Their garden/lanai is quite neat, full of healthy plants, and the marble tile looks clean. If my calculations are right, they have lived all their lives under the current regime; his build makes me think he must have done some heavy lifting in his day, and I wonder if he was a kind man, to his family or to people who crossed his path. Did he purge anyone from his unit? Do they wonder what would have happened if their families had brought them out of the country early on?
To my left, the other first floor residents have a bit of a pigsty in their backyard, the little section I can see is full of empty plastic bottles, some laundry, and the entire area is bare concrete. One fellow comes out, and looks to be scratching his scalp intently, going over every inch with both hands, shaking dandruff out of his scalp maybe or just massaging himself awake. One of his fellow housemates comes out in only his underpants to toss out some used water.
Across the path and to the right, the front door opens and a child stumps out, carrying the trash. He lugs it over the front lawn, dumps it there and starts pouting. He's exuding sheer unhappiness, and then slumps back inside, leaving the garbage out. The tip is actually down the path, another fellow brings old flowers out to toss, but the little boy's bag's remain on the grass. About 15 minutes later, a middle age man comes out holding three large bags, he keeps the door open for a bit, then I see the same child carrying more bags behind him. They don't speak, but I sense this could be the dad. The man barely gives the boy any consequence, they are both carrying a load, but the child is probably no more than 7 and he's got his hands full. The man walks ahead, doesn't check if the child is following, and with some stumbling, the boy follows him down the lane and to the left of the main gate.


I have two patio chairs on my balcony, I washed them down a few days ago and they come in handy in the space. What I discovered attached to one of the chairs, however, gives me pause. I think they are handcuffs, but they don't have any keyhole, so I am not sure if that's the purpose of their nasty looking grip. I can't remove them from the chair, and it gives that particular seat an ominous presence. What person or thing was forced to stay in that chair? Why are there tape marks on one metal arm? Or have all my previous literary readings of this country colored this simple tool? It could just be something naughty, forgotten in the corner of the 4th floor.


ChichaJo said...

I was so engrossed in this post...how interesting you have made your morning balcony sitting!

I love people watching too and can lose myself just wondering what their stories are :)

Katrina said...

Like Joey, I got lost in your descriptions of your neighbors. The last few posts have been almost like reading a serialized story for me. I can't wait to turn the page and see how it plays out. :-)

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