Sunday, July 25, 2021

Of parking spots and lives that are never enough

Life in a PPR is a life that is worth less than what residents are worthy of but just enough to keep them there.

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You would have to drive slowly in the area of any People’s Housing Project (PPR). At the Cochrane PPR, there are over 1,000 units; the same goes for the Kota Damansara PPR while other PPR numbers never touch below 100.

And at every PPR, there are never enough parking spots.

At the Cochrane PPR, there are cars parked on both sides of the road – so many that finding a spot to park your car would be nearly impossible. While the road was meant for cars to pass through in two different directions, the number of vehicles parked along the sides effectively turns it into a single lane.

This is not counting the motorcycles, either. At the Kota Damansara PPR, motorcycles spill out onto the road. To navigate this area would mean stepping down from your vehicle and walking, because only the residents have enough grit to waltz through the lans and roads marked by motorcycles and cars.

If you ever think about parking, driving through the PPR to find a spot requires a delicate balance between going too fast and too slow: too fast, and you may hit someone; too slow and the vehicles behind you will begin honking.

Suffice to say there is never enough parking for the residents to forgo considering how they will park their cars.

Perhaps it is the notion of “sufficient but never enough” that caused two households at the Kota Damansara PPR to mourn losses in 2019. Two nameless individuals fell from dizzying heights because of railings that were sufficient but never enough.

Another delicate balance for residents is in the very act of living. Life can either be too safe or too risk at PPRs. If you take it too safe, you will be left behind while watching your steps from rusty railings to the cracked ground and urine left by stray cats and men alike. You would be going too slowly to ever live.

But going too quickly is also a risk in its own way. There is always sharp gravel that may pierce your skin, urine that you may step on, or railings that will not save you if you fall after leaning back against them.

Safety is sufficient but never enough. Parking spots are sufficient but never enough. Residents’ right to a wholesome life is sufficient but never enough. Nothing is ever enough here in the PPRs, only sufficient.

Do they deserve such a life?

But whether or not they deserve it, they have to put up with it. Life in a PPR is a life that is worth less than what they are worthy of but just enough to keep them there. This delicate balance, though, is not what the residents are responsible for. It is the system that allowed it to happen.

It had been a while since I last set foot in the Kota Damansara PPR, and it was only by chance that I found myself at the Cochrane PPR. Both experiences chased me away from the thought that I should be there.

In my short stay at the Kota Damansara PPR, I found that my needs as a privileged person were never met. There was not enough water to completely wet me, not enough light to keep me from being paranoid in the bathroom, not enough hygiene for me to walk around carelessly.

A television placed in the middle of the living room had no channel in which I found any entertainment. And at the Cochrane PPR, there was never enough space for me to drive through recklessly.

Life in a PPR is a life of rights that are just sufficient. It is because of this that residents are kept in their homes, shrouded in the darkness of their 700 square foot space, sweaty and in need of water that is never around when they need it.

PPRs are sufficient as a shelter but never enough for residents to completely live.

Should they be kept any longer in this never enough condition? They have been deprived enough of their worth.

In every inch of space in every unit at every PPR are residents who keep on waiting for a sufficient life that is more than enough.

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