O.J, Red and Cream were my nearest neighbours. The first time I saw them, they seemed a bit off; not approachable at all. Not the type you would like to come across while hanging up your clothes in the backyard. However, I had to do what I had to do and I couldn’t just relocate because I had ‘narcotic’ looking neighbours so I stayed.
Every day that I couldn’t avoid going outside; I would ‘coincidentally’ meet some mean faces; they really knew how to growl at you. Then something unexpected happened. We slowly started to become friends. At first, it started with the occasional eye contact then I would pop some corny joke. I got closest to O.J, whom was the most intimidating of them all but somehow that made me like him the most.
A week before the inevitable happened, O.J and I got closer. I would increase the number of my outside visits just to tease him. Then he died. I didn’t even get any notice. I didn’t even know he was sick. I just went outside the day to hang out my clothes, the trip was more appealing because I knew I would see O.J and probably we would get along some more. I saw someone who looked like him but my gut feelings told me it wasn’t him. Some minutes later, I saw his owner. I asked ‘Where’s O.J?’
The owner replied ‘Him drop out enuh’ That was a Jamaican term that meant he died. I was stunned. The owner continued to tell me that he was sick for some time. I never got any hints of him being ill, he seemed so strong, he acted with so much life. The kennel seemed gray without him.
The other dogs were unusually quiet as if it was a moment of reverence for O.J… I should be happy that I had one less ‘narcotic-looking’ neighbour to deal with, one less pitbull tearing my gut to pieces to worry about but O.J once I got to know him wasn’t bad at all. I looked at his family, their faces seem a bit ‘downer’ than usual. I whispered ‘R.I.P O.J’.
We really should never judge a book by it’s cover. The meanest neighbour turned out to be pretty cool. If we take the time to get beyond that exterior surface of a person that’s made hard and cold by society, we’ll learn that some of the warmest and kindest souls reside within these hard, cold surfaces. Say hi to your neighbour.
Ask them how they are. Give people a chance. Life’s too short for people to be so cold towards each other. Thank you O.J, the pitbull for reinforcing that lesson. I still miss you.