Monday column: Midnight Chaos

Opinion Sunday 19/November/2023 15:59 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Monday column: Midnight Chaos

I blame the congested urban life for many of our problems these days. We live uncomfortably close together divided by thin concrete walls. We may tolerate the noise from the house next door during the day but we need the night to be peaceful.

Last month, as I was prepared to go to sleep just after midnight, the peace of the night was shattered by loud music coming from a house celebrating a wedding.  They were having their fun as the world was starting to take a break from a busy routine. About fifty people were on the terrace making as much noise as possible making sure the whole neighbourhood was aware of their party. My first impulse was to call the police but I thought it would not do any good. I went to bed knowing sleep would not come easy. I lay awake with the tempo of music vibrating the very floor my bed stood on. I was a guest to a wedding party that I was not invited but forced to take part until two in the morning.

Keeping silent to disrupting actions of others is common. I guess most of us are tolerant and in doing so we allow ourselves to suffer silently. A week later, two teenagers decided to have some fun in the middle of the night. They made their presence felt with the wheels of their cars squealing as they drove fast on the narrow roads.

I parted the curtain and peered outside in the dark. The light from the half moon was shining on two cars racing side by side at a break neck speed. They disappeared around a bend and then one of them came back spinning a full circle before straightening up and narrowly missing hitting a tree. The second car followed behind in hot pursuit and did a similar spin, straightened up and the driver drove straight towards a graveyard compound. I watched in horror as the car ploughed on the brick wall. There was a terrible noise as the headlamps picked up dust lifting up in the air mixed with grey smoke erupting from the radiator, I guessed I acted on impulse and rushed out of the house. I was not alone.

My neighbours were outside making their way to the car. Miraculously, the young driver staggered out from the metal and brick ruins looking very dazed. His racing friend did not even bother to stop and try to help. He sped away leaving his friend facing the music. However, the young man recovered quickly and started to walk away from the scene. I learned a later that he did not have a driving licence nor the car was his.

I went to sleep that night knowing that, although the two men broke the peace of the night, I harboured no ill-feeling against them. Sometimes, disruptions come to an end peacefully but in that occasion it nearly concluded in a disaster. I would have felt guilty if the accident had caused a fatality but I slept easy knowing that all ended well. The following morning, I shared some thoughts with one of my neighbours.

We agreed that not all the nights are as peaceful as they used to be in our street. As a matter of fact, the days are quieter and uneventful.

Before we parted company, I looked at the broken wall and the overturned white car. The scene was a strong evidence that there was no definitive plan for disruption. Everybody deserves some peace and quiet during the night. Anyone who is insensitive to that basic need does so at their own peril.