When it comes to living in a high-density apartment complex like I do, most days, I can’t say there’s too much to complain about. The gardens are always nicely manicured. The public areas are mopped clean each morning. Every Tuesday, we get fumigated. The mail is always delivered promptly.
Sure, sometimes we complain about little things. Like that the security guards who let just about anyone through. Like the time Saffy found herself trapped with her frenemy Jeanette who dropped by unannounced to talk about her boyfriend whom Saffy had once dated.
“Why did you let her in?” Saffy demanded of Lashmi who sits in the guardhouse. “I’ve been trying to avoid her for days!”
Poor Lashmi shook her head with regret. “I’m so sorry, Miss Saffy,” she said, twisting her wrists in a chime of gold bangles, “but she said she knew you and she even knew the block and apartment number. There was no reason not to let her in!”
“Well, please don't do it again because I had to talk her for two hours about her new boyfriend who was my ex-boyfriend. Can you believe her bad manners? And I missed Masterchef! Do you know how annoying that is?” Saffy asked, her impressive bosom rising on cue to emphasize her displeasure.
Of course, Lashmi learnt her lesson so well, she has since denied access to anyone and everyone. Including the FedEx guy who was delivering Amanda’s purchase of a pair of very slinky silk underwear that she was going to wear on her second date with Paolo, the hot Italian banker she met at a conference.
“What were you thinking?” Amanda sighed to Lashmi the next day. “Do you know I had to wear some old pair of lingerie? I was so embarrassed. ”
“Oh, but what am I to do, Miss Amanda?” Lashmi moaned. “I let someone in, I get scolded. I don’t let someone in, I also get scolded! Both sides, kena!”
Amanda paused, giving Lashmi’s dilemma some thought. “OK, tell you what: you don’t let in anyone who’s asking for Saffy, but for me and Jason, you let them all in, OK?”
A few weekends ago, Sharyn rang Saffy’s handphone.
“Ay!” Sharyn said, by way of greeting, “why your secure-lity guard say I cannot come up? I got so many ting for you and very hot, you know! Let me up, lah! Aiyoh! I hand you to Lashmi. Nah, you talk to her.”
By the time Sharyn had puffed up to our apartment, she was in a state of extreme irritation. “Wah, you too much, you know! Ask people to da bao your nasi lemak and rojak and den you don’t let them in. How can like dat?”
Saffy puffed up. “Well, she let Jeanette in the last time and I didn’t want to take any more chances!”
“Aiyoh, den say next time dohn let Jeanette in, lah! Why must ban everyone? Ay, what are you doing?” Sharyn asked finally noticing that Saffy was pressed up against the side of the lounge room, her ear stuck to an inverted glass on the wall.
“I’m trying to listen to what’s going on next door!” Saffy hissed.
Sharyn carefully put her plastic bags on the dining table. She sidled up next to Saffy and pressed her ear against the wall. “Why, what happen?” she whispered.
“We have new neighbours!” Saffy murmured. “Two very hot Australian guys. I think they may be gay, but I can’t be sure!”
“Why, ah?” Sharyn asked as she pressed her ear to the wall.
Saffy frowned. “Why I can’t be sure? Because there’s just so much noise, I can’t hear properly. It’s very echo-ey. They mustn’t have had all their furniture in yet!”
“Ay, got girl voice, leh! Cannot be gay, lah!”
Saffy’s eyes dropped down from the ceiling to focus to Sharyn. “What does that have to do with any…Oooh wait, they’re coming this side…I still can’t hear very…”
Sharyn concentrated. “She say she study at Harvard…”
“God, how can you hear so clearly? Harvard?...Harvard!” Saffy straightened up. “Oh my God, tell me that’s not Amanda next door!”
Sharyn picked up her handphone and dialed. Very distantly, from a direction that was possibly next door, a phone rang.
“Yah, hallo, Amanda, ah? You next door, issit?” Sharyn said cheerfully. “Yah, Saffy, is Amanda!”
For days, it’s been all Amanda can talk about. “Can you imagine, she actually had a glass up against the wall!” she told Barney Chen.
“Uh huh. You poor thing,” he growled. “So listen, are they gay? Your new neighbours, I mean.”
Meanwhile, Saffy says it’s extremely irritating our apartment’s common walls are so thin. “What kind of Neighbourhood Watch is this?”