Essay On Rights Of Neighbours

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Then there was screaming when my mother swooped down and lifted us from the floor as the door flew open. These are some of the others: More than once, in a rage, my father intentionally crashed his car into another vehicle. I’m sleepy and warm stretched out on the floorboards behind the back seat—in those days before seatbelts were required.

Before my mother carried us into the bathroom and locked the door, I caught a glimpse of my uncle as he barged into the room, fists readied for my father who was charging toward him from the kitchen. The crash I remember happened on Christmas Eve, when I was a child. My older sisters are sitting in the back with my sleeping twin. My father has told the neighbors that the parking spot on the street in front of our house belongs to us.

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The moment of the crash and the moments immediately after the crash are vivid. He reasons that his family owns the house and that ownership includes the parking spot in front of it.

Others apparently don’t agree, as our next-door neighbor’s car is parked there.

Just that snapshot: my father’s right foot extended, making contact, his left hand grasping the collar of a white shirt while the guy is running away, his shirt ripping off his back. A pile of dishes on one end of the ironing board and my father smashing them one a time, hurling them to the floor, each time with a leap.

He jumps up and as his feet come off the ground he hurls a plate, held in both hands, to the floor. My mother is somewhere not in the picture, shouting. My memory is that the fight happened at my grandmother’s, and we all drove home, and then my father crashed the car into a neighbor’s car.

I’m a child sitting on my butt in front of the open refrigerator while my mother holds an ice pack to my eye. He says, of my sisters, “I love to hear them laughing.” That Christmas Eve in Brooklyn, the night he crashed into a neighbor’s car, we were returning from his mother’s house where there’d been a big fight again, with Johnny, the brother who’d smashed through our front door. In the living room of my grandmother’s house a dozen relatives restrained Johnny on one side of the room, and Joe, my father on the other. But I can’t be sure about the fight at my grandmother’s. I remember the car crashing into the car with certainty.

My father has just knocked me across the room and my eye is rapidly swelling. My father watching, his eyes hard but with a hint of worry over what he might have done. My twin sister has just started her first job working a cash register and someone conned her with an old scam that involved breaking a twenty. I’m kneeling by the couch in our Long Island home, next to my father, who’s a few weeks away from dying of cancer. He takes a drag and hands the cigarette to me and then he talks a bit while I take a drag. I remember flying into the front seat and winding up in my mother’s arms as a neighbor came out of the front door of her apartment screaming and grasping a fork in her upraised hand as if it were a knife. I saw more neighbors rushing out of their apartments and more shouting as big snow flakes fall in a flurry over Ainslie Street, onto the pavement and the houses, our neighbors all out up and down the block, shouting. It was a warm spring night at the end of April, and I was a senior in high school.


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