I wouldn’t say our place is not safe. I mean, I’ve already moved four places since last year and this one is the most convenient, most accessible and most secured flat I’ve ever lived in so far. I have to give credit to my rock solid reliable and hardcore systematic husband who found this winning flat. I was instantly impressed at first glance. Clean wide kitchen, brand new facilities, and my-oh-my our room is definitely immaculate compared to the last one – which I have recklessly chosen out of impulse and desperation. In case you don’t know, UAE is very strict with living together with no papers [marriage cert] whatsoever [although unmarried couples living together are scattered everywhere]. Landlords are picky. I can’t blame them. This is the reason why I’m writing this post on the first place. Since Dubai is a huge melting pot, you will most likely find interracial couples everywhere. If you’re a Mixed – Asian couple then good luck in finding a decent place to live in. Indian men are often unwelcome in Kabayan [Filipino] homes. Sad but true. This is where our first problem started.
Sam lives in Abu Dhabi that time, so I had to scout for a place for us here in Dubai. Rejection phone calls [because of our nationality differences] are just one obstacle we have to go through. The second most ridiculous hurdle is health and sanitation. I was traumatized with this creepy looking landlord who showed me around a compacted suffocating space which is called “partition” [a huge room divided into small rooms] with disgusting bathroom that has squirting fungi [I’m not sure what it is, really] breeding on each cracks and crevices of the shower tiles. And there above me was a yellow flickering light bulb almost half-detached from the wiring that casts a bleak shadow on a muddy cemented floor. And because landlord is feeling generous, if I sign up for all these, he will provide me with a bug-infested-looking sofa that hasn’t been fed for years. Eat my ass. [Yes not all parts of Dubai is glamorous. Duh.] All these comes in package for 2,000 dirhams. FYI. No washing machine and thanks but no thanks, I’m not going to heat my food in that microwave.
So you can’t really blame me, if I got easily blinded by the cheap rent and mediocre partition offered to me in International City which has a decent double deck bed and a bathroom where I can manage to bath. Let’s just say it’s less filthy.
Sam moved. We lived there. Settled for what we have. Never made a fuss about the grime in the kitchen so long as our food is far from having salmonella and we can still afford to eat without puking. It’s fine. Never mind the fact that out of six light bulbs attached to the cheap chandelier hanging in our bedroom, only one is lit up because the rest is broken. Never mind that that the landlord keeps a huge birdcage in the tiny teeny terrace where we dry our clothes. Yes it smells like bird shit every time. Fabric conditioner is a waste. Never mind that I can’t always look straight at the other toilet bowl [there are two] because it looks revolting [the other one is well functioning and looks fine]. I don’t know about Sam. He’s a cave man. He can endure these things. In short, we survived for three months.
One day, news proliferated in the neighborhood that a woman was murdered by a man who pretended to be a plumber. Although Sam thinks it’s silly to be scared [He said offenders don’t normally go back to crime scene. Let’s hear it from the lawyer side of him.] It made me a little more cautious than usual. No short shorts. Alert mode on. No late night walks unless with Sam. No smiling and trying to be a friendly neighbor to anyone. Keep a low profile. Things obviously went back to normal. After all, incident happened blocks away and Sam secured me a car lift. He walks me down to my pick up every morning and calls me as often as he can.
Another day after that day. We were lying in bed right after a cricket match. India won and Sam was elated. We slept well that night until we heard some eerie growling from the next door flat. A rumble. Violent voices of wolves barking at each other. Yelling, screaming, cheering, wailing but definitely not about Cricket anymore. It lasted for hours. Someone’s definitely beating someone. Whether by choice or by force, we couldn’t recognized. Sam and I decided it was a fight Club. It’s straight out alarming. We don’t know what was going on and we will never know.
It happened again and again. We pushed it aside. It’s their business. Not ours. We were both tired from work. We slept.
These things never compelled us to leave. We’re still a brand new couple living together – getting to REALLY know each other WELL and making necessary adjustments. Looking for another place to stay and moving out again is just plain taxing.
What made us decide to pack our stuff in a snap – is the fact that we were asked to pay additional hundred bucks for every 30 minute laundry. This was not fair – AT ALL. Knowing Sam, he will not spend a single penny for a very petty reason. People took advantage just because they know we can afford it. Just because some renters are earning less, they have to pay less. And since we’re earning a little bit more, we need to pay more – regardless of the size of space we live in. It’s bad enough that our room is smaller and theirs are bigger and we get to pay extra. We don’t do charity, Sam said. We stormed out as soon as I arrived from Manila from my vacation.
Our new flat now is obviously way better, more relaxed, more comfortable. It’s walking distance from the metro station, mall, grocery store, police station and clinics. Most importantly, the bus stop was fundamentally implanted right in front of our building. And I guess the fun loving dynamics of people in the flat is a bonus. We sort of become an extended family to each other. Although of course discipline has to be imposed with tenants and some disagreement is inevitable, we try as much as we can to be responsible adults living together harmoniously.
So come Friday night when a series of horrible text messages were dropped like sample bombshells on training camp, we were all shocked. Like is this for real or are we still on boot camp? Who’s in command?
I’m probably exaggerating. Probably not. Depends on how paranoid one can be. For sure to Sam it’s no big deal. He doesn’t make a huge fuss about these things. But when I once read the messages, it bothered me BIG TIME. Like, have I ever written something about this guy that he wouldn’t like? [Okay maybe now. Guilty. But this is just to justify that no one has done anything so fatal for someone to react that way.] It troubled almost all of us. Yes we were threatened. We thought we knew each other well enough to be complacent but we probably don’t. People act on impulse during difficult situation and MOSTLY when under the influence of alcohol. Which is why I despised drinking – more than cigarette [Although both are non-negotiable]. I told Sam that once we have our own house, there will be no room for alcohol or cigarette. Even in moderation. Even in special occasions. Thank God he doesn’t have vices.
The person who sent all these messages is obviously dealing with crisis – which we later on figured is not concerning the rest of us. It’s some major personal issues and he unwittingly diverted his frustrations to the people around him.
He tossed some grave words that left us alarmed. Even if it was a general message directed to everyone, he was obviously enraged with one specific person. But who? And why? Who and what aggravated him? Could it be that serious? No one knows. There was a clear cut, deep-rooted fury in his message. In a span of few hours, we became overly critical of ourselves. Guilt ate us for no reason at all. We started to question ourselves if we ever did something that offended, antagonized or provoked him. The message was intended to someone. Someone without a face. It could be anyone of us. And that puzzle is just insanely perplexing.
What is even more disturbing is when he sent a vivid photo that made some of us sleepless. Thank God I wasn’t able to see it. Knowing how paranoid I can be, I will be immobilized and perhaps I won’t be able to function well at work with that terror plastered in my mind.
Few days after the incident, after having rational discussions about it, we have moved past it. He came back to the flat like normal. We responded normal. He claimed it as a joke – which is obviously not [Not to many of us]. He apologized vaguely and we nonchalantly accepted.
Whatever it is they are going through [couple], it must’ve been really tough that it cause them to inflict terror to others, diverting their frustrations to clueless humans who considered them as family.
I’m just thankful it’s over now. Hopefully. Even of course, the question remains hanging on thin air.
Who? Why? How?
It takes guts to write this down in public. I’m not even sure how people will perceive my writing. But I feel like somehow it has to be written. People has certain trigger points. They have different depths. What may be offensive to others may not be offensive to me. It’s quite complicated living with strangers. That’s all I can say.
Words that scare are never funny.
Daily Prompt: Shiver Photo Credit: pexels.com