Once in a while, something happening in the block that we live in scares me.
Once in a while, we would hear a man shouting so loudly that it echoes across the block. There would be sounds of things – doors, cupboards, tables – being thrown or slammed. And sometimes, there would be sounds of somebody sobbing or screaming in return.
The ruckus would go on for a bit and I would freeze in the midst of whatever I was doing – bathing my baby, or putting him down for a nap, or cooking. And then just as I resolve to do something about it, the noise dies down into a strange silence. And I am left wondering if I had imagined the entire episode.
Most of the time, it happens in the day. Sometimes, it happens at night. Each time, I would wonder what was going on.
It happened today.
The man’s voice seems louder, somehow. The crashes, too, sounded explosive. I stopped for a moment, my heart beating fast. As I tumbled into the room to ask the husband to do something, I saw that he was leaning out of the window, trying to ascertain where it was coming from.
That was it.
I told him that I was going to call the police and handed the baby to him.
“You don’t even know which floor it is,” he pointed out.
I dashed out of the room. “I don’t care. What if someone is being killed right now.”
As the shouts continued, I rang the neighbourhood police centre and a lady picked up. I explained that there seemed to be a domestic spat and I was worried. She took my name and my number, and promised to send someone over to check. As I hung up the phone, there was a sudden silence.
It was over.
I don’t know if what I did was right, I don’t know if it would help in any way. I mean, by the time the police showed up, they would have absolutely nothing to work on. Maybe I should have gone out to check, floor by floor. Maybe I should have tried to ascertain which apartment the fighting was happening in.
Oh, I don’t know. I reacted instinctively, I wasn’t thinking straight. But I knew that if we did nothing, someday, someone would get hurt.
That afternoon, Aidan asked me why I had called the police. I didn’t even realise that he had overheard our conversation. I explained that something bad was happening and I wanted the police to help. And I decided to turn it into a learning point for him.
“We need to be the people who help, if we can,” I said. “It can be simple ways. Like if your friend is crying in school, you can give him or her a hug and ask him to play with you. Or if someone is being bullied, you can step forward to help him. We help when we can.”
I don’t know how much of it went into his head but it’s a good start.
My heart is still heavy from the episode today. Whoever it happened to, I hope that he or she is fine and safe.