Even when you are alone on a remote island there's no guarantee that some day there's not going to be a shipwreck and before you know it you'll be joined by scores of neighbours.
Or you may bump into Mr. Crusoe while exploring the island.
I guess that's why, while the greatest commandment is "to love God with all your heart and with all your soul", the second greatest is: "love your neighbour as yourself".
When I left the city to live in the wilderness, in this humble abode, I had only the hermit Mr. Darcy as my immediate neighbour. You would have read about him and how he earned his living. He's not even in the vicinity and would not be able to hear me if I were to shout at the top of my head - that's how far he is from me. He's quite harmless and minds his own business.
The villagers are even farther away. I can only hear the children's laughter when they bathe and play in the river nearby.
The river runs behind on the West side of the farm:
|Where the river flows|
The East, as you have seen ever so often is where my window opens to the sun rising behind the jungle covered mountains:
The farm used to be bordered on both the longer sides by primary and secondary jungles - which was really how I liked it. Facing East, the jungle to the left is a forest reserve. Perfect. I have nothing to worry about there.
The subject matter here is the jungle on the right - made up of rare and beautiful timber of various species and secondary forest and bushes underneath and amongst them. They were adjacent and ran parallel to my piece of land - a nice rectangular piece. Same size too (about four acres):
|The way I like it|
I was worried that something might happen to this treasure trough. So I went to the land office, did a search and tracked down the owner. He happened to live and run a grocery shop about five kilometers away. I told him I wanted to buy over that piece of land. I was intent on giving him an offer he couldn't refuse. I had wanted to leave the land as it was - let it be a sanctuary for birds and other friendly creatures. University students could use them for their research for sustainable forest, or herbal plants and medicine.
Unfortunately he was adamant that the land was not for sale. It belonged to his late father who had wanted his children to work on it.
One fine morning I heard a loud sound of what I recognized as that of chainsaws, and some kind of motor running. It confirmed my worst fear: they were cutting down those beautiful trees! A bulldozer was rolling away like a huge caterpillar, ravaging the land and its natural habitat. In the process it broke a few of my concrete fencing pillars, and tore down part of my fencing too.
Enter Mr. Muthu. We spoke over the fence. He was kind enough to offer to replace the broken pillars and mend the fence. He told me his plan was to plant oil palm - a money-making crop, unlike my humble durian. And may be build a house there so we can become neighbours. It was durian season so I gave him some of my best durian for him to take home to his wife and children.
So the land was cleared (bye-bye jungle!) and the palms were planted. I hardly see Muthu again after that, only his workers.
Fast forward one year, and I had to contend with this scenery from my side of the fence:
So the grass is not only greener on my neighbour's lawn, they are taller too!
One day I saw Muthu walked slowly up the hill looking at his palms (I wasn't sure if he noticed the overgrown weeds). He was quite smartly dressed for a farmer. I didn't think he had planned to do any work that day. Or any day.
I caught up with him. After the small chat about the weather, and him complimenting on my lovely and healthy looking durian, I politely brought to his attention that his palms were being choked by the overgrown vines. (Actually I wanted to tell him that it was an absolute eyesore, but decided not to, for neighbourliness' sake). To my surprise and a little ire, he was quite flippant about it.
Muthu: It's ok, as long as I put fertilizers my palms will grow well...
Me: But what about aesthetics?
Muthu: What about ester what?
Since he didn't even know the word, let alone the meaning of the word I decided to just leave it at that.
Then, as he was about to leave, in a neighbourly gesture, he told me he'll get his men to clear the weeds.
And clear they did - with the most potent of weed killers!
|Even the palms were not spared|
So much for ester what on that side of the farm...
What about your neighbours, are they all angels from above?