There Goes the Neighborhood

Our neighborhood back in the ’80s was a very wholesome community. There was no one who messed with the law, the kids went to good schools, and the adults dedicated Sundays to family time and religious worship.

But when the family that lived across our compound lost their matriarch, everything went downhill. Without a strong woman keeping their family together with strict rules, the children and grandchildren started “exploring,” and many of them got entangled with the questionable kind of folks their matriarch would not have approved of if she were alive.

Those entanglements led to new neighbors for us, and boy, did they create a lot of drama for our community. No wonder my uncles often said, “There goes the neighbourhood.”

Prior to the new neighbors’ arrival, we’d never seen a “raid” in real life or cops hauling away somebody we knew — we only saw those in the movies. Also, the parents (mine and my cousins’) weren’t too strict about us young ones hanging outside. But after the first drug raid, our parents imposed strict rules about the kids’ and teenagers’ “outdoor” activities.

I remember my mom said to me one time, “C, I don’t want you going next door to see Karen, Cute (yes, I have a cousin named Cute), and Julie if those men (pointing to four of the new male neighbors) are out. One of them is just out on bail — he should be in prison.”

My mom’s concern was valid; our entire neighbourhood saw that man taken away by the cops one summer afternoon. The neighborhood kids and I were playing kickball on the street when the cops arrived. My nanny ran out yelling at me and my cousins to get inside the house.

Back then, I didn’t understand what the fuss was and was angry at the adults for making me go inside when the other kids were able to stay outside and even go near the police car. Anyway, the neighbor who was arrested due to drug charges just stayed a day at the city jail; his wife (our “original” neighbor) was able to post bail.

That man’s family, from wherever he was originally, moved in with his wife and later on, they all got into the drug business, making our neighbourhood a hot location for druggies. The good families moved away because of this — including my next-door cousins.

Currently, there’s a nationwide campaign to get rid of drug pushers and I must say, our neighborhood’s more peaceful now — especially with “that particular neighbor” and his fellow druggies in jail already. Hopefully, in the very near future, we’ll regain the wholesome community we used to have. With the druggies gone from our scene, the only problem now is traffic.