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We’re pretty lucky here in our little Maroubran house. We have light, we have space, we have nice neighbours…

Well, sort of.

I’ve already written about the lovely Victor who lives to the right of us. There is an Asian family to the left, who seem friendly enough, though we haven’t had much to do with them and they do that insane ranting in Cantonese that sounds like a fight but is actually joking around. I’m used to that sound, so it doesn’t bother me, though it can get noisy at times.

What does bother me is the sound of our back neighbours.

It is a family, mum, dad, a boy of about three and a toddler girl. And they hate each other. Most mornings, I wake up to the sound of the mother screaming at the little boy. Literally screaming at him; she opens her mouth and the most awful sounds just come pouring out. The child inevitably starts wailing at an unbelievable volume, and if the father is home he will often chip in with a few expletives or mock the child’s crying (either mimicking him or saying things like “you sound like a stupid girl”).

Most afternoons it continues. I’ll often be out in the garden doing some weeding and have to go inside because the sound of them hollering in hatred at one another is an assault on the senses, and it wrenches my heart.

“I’m NOT in the mood for you today! I’M NOT IN THE MOOD! Get out! Get out!” The mother will yell. So the kid goes outside, plays with his sister, ends up hitting her or pushing her, the mother comes storming out, “Did you hit her?” *whack!* “Get lost! I’m not in the mood for you!”

Yeah sure the kid sounds like a pain in the neck, but honestly, what model has he had to go on? A pair of parents who can’t stand one another, who routinely scream and swear and yell at one another (and then demand to know why the child is screaming, swearing or yelling). It’s not like one person is more aggressive than the other; they are both nightmares. One of the worst fights I (unintentionally) overheard was late one night between the parents over money, and I honestly couldn’t tell whether I needed to call the cops. I don’t think anyone was being hit, but if someone was I didn’t know whether it was him or her who needed help.

There’s no love. No affection. No tenderness. The mother seems to speak to the baby girl in kinder tones, but I can’t imagine that will last beyond the kid starting to talk. They either have no idea how audible they are, or they don’t care. When they went on holidays between Christmas and New Year, there was untold peace and harmony in the neighbourhood. As soon as they returned, the battle resumed.

I know it’s not my business, but it is just an awful thing to be near. I pray for them, but it’s hard to know how, or what to pray for. It’s a misery, and I’ll bet neither of them thought that this was what their lives would become when they got married. So good relationships are to be treasured, even when they’re hard; when there’s love and trust and respect and commitment at the heart of it, you know that you can weather the minor bumps. When you don’t have those things, the minor bumps become fractures and breaks until the thing is so damaged it can never be repaired.

I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.