The Neighbors (Flash Fiction #30)

KPhoto by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Kyi-sook has this continuous feud with her neighbor Joe. Kyi-sook’s husband Kai is a very laid-back guy and doesn’t want to make a fuss at all. After prodding her husband numerous times without seeing any results, Kyi-sook realizes that she is the one who has to go out there to argue or even fight with her neighbor.

When her neighbor Joe reminded her to cut the grass and beautify her front yard, Kyi-sook would retort that the reason of her untidy yard was because of Joe blowing his dead leaves over the border. Just small trivial matters like that. When Joe installed cameras around his house at the gutter level, Kyi-sook went to tell him that one of his cameras is targeted at her house, invading her privacy.

This particular weekend, the two meet, facing each other, with the hedge of the property border between them. They argue about a number of things–the position of the garbage containers, the missing community papers, the parking arrangement of the guests etc. Usually if their spouses are at home, they might come out to defuse the situation, but on this day, Joe’s wife has gone to the supermarket and Kyi-sook’s husband is lying on bed, a little feverish after the vaccine shot.

Joe has a blue recycle bin, which Kyi-sook took the day before. Kyi-sook found it on the edge of her property, which could be placed there by the garbage guy who, after emptying the container, had thrown it here and there carelessly. However Kyi-sook wanted to teach Joe a lesson so that next time Joe would not place his garbage too close to her place. Now Joe inquires about the blue bin and Kyi-sook pretends she doesn’t know its whereabouts and has to look around. An argument ensues and soon gets heated.

Then suddenly, Joe falls to the ground, his hands holding his chest. Kyi-sook is shocked at first, thinking that Joe might be doing a practical joke. After calling his name several times, she realizes that something is wrong. She can’t scale the hedge. So she walks around the hedge and comes to where Joe is. She has the presence of the mind to call 911, but all the time she scolds him that he does this deliberately just to unsettle her. If he’s trying to do that, he is not being successful since she is not easily unsettled. She tells him, but he doesn’t seem to be listening.

When the ambulance arrives, Joe is strapped to the stretcher, which is pushed in by two strong shouldered men. At first, Kyi-sook is mistaken as the wife, but she says she’s not. When Kyi-sook wants to come in the ambulance also, the paramedics stops her since she’s not the kin. Kyi-sook goes a little frantic and tries to explain while the paramedics stare at her in total bewilderment.

“Is he going to die?” Kyi-sook asks.

“Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see.”

“I need to come with him. He is going to bad mouth about me to Yama. I can’t let him.” Kyi-sook says.

“Who’s Yama?” The paramedic asks. The paramedic has worked in JFK Hospital for many years and has seen many “weird” customs coming from the diverse population in the region, but he has never heard of this before.

“Yama is Buddha’s assistant who’s in charge of death. If Joe meets Yama, he’s going to bad-mouth about me, probably even accusing me of murdering him. That can’t be happening.” Kyi-sook says, a little frantic.

“Go away. We have an emergency at hand.”

When the ambulance drives away, the paramedics see a mad woman running after them, shouting, “I didn’t kill you. Please do not say anything bad about me to Yama. I beg you. You hear me?”

27 thoughts on “The Neighbors (Flash Fiction #30)

    1. No, Joe is not listening, but it is so important that he is made to listen to the begging. Since it is said Yama is not just dispensing justice, but rather he also listen to what people have to say and do some negotiations. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Somehow in Buddhism, at least in the version I know, Chitragputa (I just googled it) has been combined with Yama, who would read the roster and recite all the deed a person has done. It’s quite frightening, isn’t it? When I was young, I was told that if I threw away any little piece of half eaten food, Yama would know and would force me to eat what I throw away when I meet him. He knows everything.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It is also said that Yama is pretty flexible and one can negotiate with Yama. Some are even allowed to come back to the world to finish what they haven’t finished if they can argue their case right. This is why I’ve always been very serious in improving my negotiation skills so that when the time comes, I will negotiate my way to come back to live for ten or twenty years more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it was as clever as she was persistent. She was a very interesting character. It is fascinating to learn about other people’s customs, religions, fears and joys. I enjoy your stories. Hope you have a blessed weekend. Sending you love and hugs my friend. β€οΈπŸ€—πŸ˜˜

        Liked by 1 person

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