My neighbour said something to me last weekend over an over-the-fence chat that had me sporting a smile as courtesy, but causing bewilderment at the same time.
I was re-doing the small garden we have at home with the kids - you know pruning, cutting the grass and revamping it a bit after years of neglect, when the neighbour from the front house popped up and we had our small chat over the fence. I could not invite him in for a small Raya chat instead in the house as we were not in the state to take guest with our sweat and dirty appearances.
Anyway, back to the chat.
I guess he would like find out about Arif taking his flying classes as that was the second time he asked about him. His daughter was a classmate of Arif at SMK BTHO for him to keep a distant interest in him, I guess.
Once he completed his small chat on Arif's flying (and me on his daughter's at UIA) , I complimented him on his new vehicle. It is easy to get on the neighbour's or anyone's good book. Just compliment them on about anything. Their slimming down over the Ramadhan, the new coat of paint on their old gates, their new sport rims etc etc.
Not that I would notice much of the happening surrounding my house. Me, going back and forth from office would take most of my energy anyway. But since his house is practically in front of my house, and the fact when we returned on Thursday on Raya week, there were only a few cars parked on the street, hence I noticed it .
You know his response?
"Aiyah, Rahman, terpaksa lah. Everybody semua kereta baru. Habih we all dah cornered ni. Org depan (not my house) new car, org tepi pun sama, orang belakang pun kete baru jugak. Tinggal kiterorang je kete lama. Mana boleh tahan!" he said. He was smiling when he said that; he was non-chalant too but I know he was serious.
To be honest, I have no inkling about what he was talking about. I have not the faintest idea over which neighbours would have what cars. I don't keep track of them - I try not to. He mentioned their names and their new cars, but for the life of me, I simply would not and could not remember those.
I know there is no point for me to keep track of them. I know I can't compete. If I have one neighbour who lives below my income capacity, there would be 10 more neighbours above it. If I can afford Saga, they could buy Waja; if I Perdana, they can buy the latest BMW 5 series.
The reason I bought a car is that I need it for my work. Not to keep up with the Lees, the Alis and the Ahmads. The same reason I would buy a house is that I need to live in one and I need to shelter the family, and not for me to compare with my neighbours.
It never ends.
To be honest, I was not taken aback by what he said. I honestly thought he would use the excuse of replacing his 'old' 4WD SUV. I would have bought that. May be he was trying to do small talk with me. I seldom sit with them and have a chat over nothing. May be that was what he was trying to do. And I will keep him and myself entertained I guess. ;-)
And amused, if I may add.
But for anyone to keep up with the Joneses....hmm...