For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, one of Amanda’s friends gave her a pair of binoculars for her birthday.
When she opened the present, Amanda looked at it blankly, in much the same way a gorilla might if you handed it a Thermomix. “What is it?” she asked eventually.
I said it looked like a pair of binoculars, but she shouldn’t quote me.
Amanda paused, a little frown forming over her brow. “But why?”
“Maybe it’s by Chanel,” Saffy suggested.
Three pairs of eyes flicked over to the box which had Chinese writing all over it.
Amanda, who had briefly brightened at the idea of a Chanel binoculars, pursed her lips. “I’m guessing, no…”
The present was put aside as Amanda moved on to more useful birthday presents like a cute puffer winter coat from Moncler, and gorgeous wool blanket from Hermés, though Saffy later asked me privately if Amanda’s friends all thought she lived in the South Pole. “I see mould in the future of the Moncler coat, and that blanket is just going to become a dust ball. That’s all I’m saying!”
A few days later, I came home to find Amanda standing by the window, peering through her birthday binoculars.
“What are you looking at?”
“You know,” my flatmate murmured as she adjusted the magnification, “it really is amazing how people live with so much rubbish! And they have such bad taste in furniture, too!”
“You’re spying on our neighbours?!”
Amanda lowered her binoculars and turned to me. “I’m not spying! I’m just having a look. Is it my fault if people leave their windows wide open so anyone can look in?”
“This is why I always have the curtains drawn when I’m in my bedroom,” Saffy later said over lunch at Sharyn’s home. “It’s so nosey pervs like Amanda don’t get a look at my magnificent nudity.”
Sharyn looked up from her bowl of rice, her Coke-bottle-thick spectacles fogged up from the steam. “But, hor, what if someone is murdering you? Then if Amanda see you from her binocular, she can quick call police, mah!”
Saffy’s bosom inflated. “Oh my God, did you finally watch The Woman in the Window like I told you?”
Sharyn sighed. “Aiyoh! So scary! When she see that stabbing, I close my eyes. Buay tahan!”
“And who saw that ending coming?” Saffy added, her breasts now swelled to a dangerous volume. “I just about peed in my pants! Have you seen it, Jason? It’s on Netflix!”
I said I didn’t like to watch movies about people being tormented in their own home. “It’s why I hated Panic Room and The Purge!”
Sharyn’s eyes grew larger. “Yah! Same! And then, hor, I doh-no why people in America so bodoh! What for you must live in a three-storey house with basement if only got two or tree of you in family? Quick sell and move into HDB, mah! Den if got murderer come to your house, don’t have to run so far to your bedroom. And some more, you can open window and scream for help!”
“And don’t get me started on how a psychologist can afford to live in that big ass house in the middle of Manhattan!” I said.
Sharyn nodded. “Hannor!”
“Such a great movie,” Saffy said with deep satisfaction. “I swear that Amy Adams needs to get an Emmy!”
The idea that she might be the accidental witness of a depraved, bloody murder in the midst of the Toa Payoh heartlands has impressed Amanda no end. Especially as she’s loved Amy Adams ever since her Superman days at Lois Lane. With very little prompting, she took to closing the window in our lounge room, all the better to peer through the curtain with her binoculars.
“Doesn’t she get hot?” I asked. “It’s so sweaty these days.”
Saffy shrugged. “No, she’s got the aircon on full blast, and she’s draped herself with that stupid Hermés blanket.”
“Wait, someone see her and report her to police, then she know!” said Sharyn, upstanding, vigilante Singaporean citizen.
“I doubt it, Shazz,” I said. “She only looks out at night and she only sticks the binoculars through the curtains. So far, all she’s seen is old Ikea furniture, aunties playing mahjong, and people eating.”
Saffy, who lives on a diet of horror, vengeance-porn films, says she would just die if one night, Amanda discovers that someone else is looking at her through their binoculars from their window. “And then he works out which apartment she’s in and comes over and knocks on the door!”
It was something about the way Saffy said it, but it completely creeped out Amanda who immediately put down the binoculars, threw off her Hermés blanket, turned the lights back on, and went straight to bed, making sure her bedroom door was securely locked.