The crying baby

It was in early December that Jessie moved into her new apartment in Berlin. It was small just like every other apartment in Berlin but it had a tiny balcony as the saving grace. Her apartment was in a building with 10 other flats. It was mostly for students judging by the size and the type of people she had noticed in the building.

She was busy setting up the new place, cramming every storage space she saw with her things. It was not until the 5th day of moving in did the crying start.

It would start every day at noon, take a break and then again begin later at night. Jessie wanted to raise this issue with her apartment manager but she felt it was too early. Soon after that, she was invited for a Christmas party at her neighbour’s house.

She didn’t want to go, she disliked parties and the obligations they come with. You had to act a certain way, you had to dress a certain way, you have to engage with people. Jessie almost didn’t go until the thought of meeting the mother of the baby struck her. She could speak to her directly and end the problem. So she took some wine as it was BYOB and showed up. The apartment was lit up with lights and the Christmas tree was beautifully decorated. They were playing Christmas special songs.

“Hey, I’m Jessie” she introduced herself to some people she recognised from her building. They started talking about the latest Marvel movie that had released and where they were going for the holidays. Jessie was not German, so she couldn’t continue the conversation once people switched to speaking in German and there were some people who spoke limited English at the party.

She waited for a bit to see if the tenant with the child would show up but they never did. She asked one if the guys “Do you guys not get disturbed by the baby crying at night?” “No, we stay right on top so we don’t hear much, you are on the lower floor so you must be directly under that house”.

The next few days passed quickly with her hardly being at home due to Christmas. She was well rested in January and still listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album when she heard the crying again. “Oh God, it begins again!” She called the apartment manager and explained the issue to him. He said he would look into it. By German standards, that would take forever.

She was heading to the back of the apartment to dump the trash when she bumped into a woman with a baby. It’s her! Jessie quickly introduced herself and the woman patiently waited for her to be done with dumping her trash. “Your daughter is so adorable, her eyes are such a beautiful hazel colour”. The baby really was adorable, she was plump, hazel eyed with brown hair and very giggly. The mother was a pretty woman with light blue eyes and blonde hair, she had a Scandinavian appearance. “Thank you….she gets it from my mother” the woman responded. “So, it must be difficult to stay up at night with the constant crying and feeding I guess? How do you manage?” Jessie asked hoping that this will lead it’s way into telling the mother the issue. “Oh that stopped sometime back, ever since we moved here, she sleeps throughout the night and she rarely cries. I’m lucky that way”. ‘Rarely cries and sleeps throughout the night?! Lady are you delusional’ Jessie was thinking. They ended their conversation with the baby’s mother asking Jessie to come over for coffee someday.

It was a month later when Jessie’s friend visited her to catch a new Netflix movie. The twist was about to revealed when the crying began. “Jesus, what is the decibel limit in this building?! That baby is so loud!” Julie told her. “Well I have been dealing with this for 2 months now, the manager won’t do anything about it and the lady thinks her baby is an angel so I can’t do anything about this”. “Go up to her house and talk to her, you can’t move, getting an apartment in Berlin is harder than getting into Princeton”. Jessie felt her friend was right, she had to talk to the mother and get it sorted.

Jessie was a programmer and the reason she liked her job was because she didn’t like jobs that dealt with people. She didn’t like conflict/small talk/telling people what to do/asking questions. That’s also why she chose to stay alone and not have flatmates. She really enjoyed solitude and having a small group of close friends.

This was why it took her months of tolerating the noise just to avoid confrontation. But finally, she could take it no more. Her friends were not willing to sleep over at her place, her concentration was always interrupted and she was never well rested.

Jessie knocked the door one Sunday morning, she was greeted by the woman who was in the middle of a mess. Boxes were everywhere and bubble wrap was lying around. The baby sat quietly wearing a flowy floral dress and diapers. She looked almost Middle Eastern with the long dark lashes and the brown hair, she was watching cartoons on an iPad. “You’re moving?” she asked the mother “Yeah! the place was too small for us, the baby needs more playing space since she’s just started walking”. “Didn’t you move in recently though?” “We did but I couldn’t let go of a bigger place I found a little away from the city, it’s cheaper that way”. Berlin rents were through the roof, it was starting to become another New York.

“Oh, good for you guys, I just dropped by to ask for some cinnamon, I needed it urgently and I didn’t have any” Jessie told her. They chatted for a bit longer regarding the new apartment and Jessie’s work. The mother is such a sweet lady compared to other Germans who were so private. Well, she was getting what she wanted and she didn’t even have to get into a confrontation. The duo were going to gone in a week.

Things got better for Jessie with time. The apartment could be called home after the noise stopped. She was busy with work and the usual mundane activities of life. One morning she went to the backyard to pick up her bike and head to work when she realised it was gone. Stealing bikes was not uncommon especially higher quality bikes like hers.

After a brief conversation with her manager that she was not showing up for work at the usual time, she went to the police station. She sat in the waiting area, annoyed with what had happened. It was not an expensive bike but she really liked it and she hated taking the bus to work, it was 2 buses and the waiting time was too long.

Her mind started to wander since there was nothing much to do when her eyes fell on the pin up boards. They had a board with all the wanted criminals in the city who they hadn’t caught yet i.e rapists, murderers, etc nothing major, this was standard. ‘God these men look creepy’ but she made a mental note of their faces since the poster did say to report them if anyone spotted them.

And there was a small board that had missing posters. ‘There’s a missing dog reward for €1000 from the owner?!’ This is one lucky dog!’ Jessie was looking at the others when she saw the cop ushering her to come in. She could finally give her complaint and leave.

She walked in, finished the formalities, hoped she would get the bike back and was leaving, she had to pass the waiting area. She happened to glance at the board again, this time she saw it and stopped dead in her tracks. Right in the corner of all the missing posters, there it was. A one year old Turkish baby was missing for over 2 months, her parents were offering a reward. The poster had a picture of the child, she was an adorable looking, hazel eyed, brown hair baby.

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