Mon | Dec 11, 2017

Patria-Kaye Aarons | If only we were all nosey neighbours

Published:Tuesday | September 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM

We've all had that moment where you wished people would just mind their own business and stay out of yours. The culprit is often that nosey neighbour who just happens to hear the details of every argument, knows exactly who is sleeping with whom, sees who came in late last night, and smells when dinner burns. Nothing passes them.

The person has become a nuisance to the neighbourhood by insisting that they 'ex-up' in everything. Remember Pearl from the comedy 227 back in the 1980s? That neighbour! Perched by their window, all seeing, all hearing, all knowing. And all you want to tell them is, "Move and gweh!" - and a few other choice words.

As intrusive as that neighbour appears, they have their worth. And I appreciate them much more today than I did last week. Dexter Pottinger was murdered in his house last Wednesday. And who knows? A nosey neighbour might have been able to save his life. I struggled when the news got out that at least one neighbour had heard Dexter's screams. Had distinctly heard the words "murder" and "help". Had listened to his car speed out soon after. And yet they did nothing.

I tried to rationalise their decision not to check. Not to call the police. Perhaps the neighbours didn't want to be nosey.

Perhaps they wanted to stay out of personal domestic disputes. Perhaps they had grown accustomed to loud exchanges coming from the house beside them.

 

Different sounds

 

But as a friend of mine pointed out, the tone of "Woi murder" when someone says or does something that sweet yuh and "Woi murder" when a knife is being plunged into your flesh are very different sounds.

I think about the nosey neighbours I have had in my own life.

I'm thankful to my neighbour who one night had a hunch that strange men in the area were there to scope out cars to steal later that night. Door to door, she walked telling everyone to be vigilant and chain their gates. We all did, and looked out for each other that night. We exchanged numbers and gave watch over fences and behind walls. Nosey neighbours became an active and effective neighbourhood watch.

I'm thankful to my neighbour who heard me screaming one night when I discovered a man hiding in my lychee tree. Not knowing who was screaming, or why, with her tiny frame, she ran out of her apartment in just her bra to help whoever was in trouble.

I'm thankful to the neighbour upstairs who would always crack his curtain and watch me come in at night because he knew I lived alone and that opening my gate that late was unsafe.

I'm thankful to my neighbour who often would knock on my door whenever she hadn't seen me for a while just to check if I was OK.

 

Uncaring culture

 

Creeping into modern society is this see-and-blind,-hear-and-deaf' culture. It fuels uncaring, cold communities and, quite frankly, it also influences crime. The zones of special operations will never work without nosey neighbours.

Without those persons who see and know, telling the things they see and know to the authorities.

Battered women will never get saved until and unless neighbours get nosey. Abused children will never have their innocence preserved until neighbours get nosey.

Let's agree to no longer ridicule the nosey neighbour. Let's agree to become nosey neighbours ourselves - not to fuel the rumour mill, but to become our brother's keeper.

My co-host on Nationwide, Cliff Hughes, says every night as we close the show, "Take care of your loved ones, and look out for your neighbour." I can give no better advice.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.