My PG is like my exile, a voluntary exile. Every roommate that I’ve had is seen like an obstacle that I have to overcome to learn a lesson. I have written this piece mainly to remind myself about what I’ve been through and how it impacted my life then. When I’d come to college and rant to my friends about my experiences with my roommates, they laughed. They were amused by my rant sessions. I hope that by sharing this here, I can amuse more people.
One of the most daunting parts about moving to a new city is that you would find yourself sharing your room/apartment with a stranger. I shifted into a double sharing room. You know the anxiety that comes when you think you would have to live with a stranger? When you would have to wake up to the face of a new person. You might end up building questions in your head. Will that person be clean and organized? Will that person flush properly after taking a dump? Will that person be too moody? What if she is a kleptomaniac?
In the beginning, I was lucky. My first roommate happened to be my classmate. N and I used to discuss and work on assignments together, study together, almost chill together. But one day, when I was half asleep, I saw her taking my entire jar of garlic mayonnaise from the mini refrigerator. I pretended to stay asleep. She took the entire jar away. She dipped the whole of her index finger till it reached the base of the jar and then licked it.
As I lay there, tucked under the blanket, I saw the mayonnaise jar getting empty gradually. It was completely injected with her saliva. I could never get a taste of it again. She did not even bother to restock. We never spoke about it. After this, every time we sat down for dinner together, I was more conscious about my plate and spoon than I have ever been in my life. In two months, she left.
A, my next roommate was from the same school as I was, but it was the first time we were seeing each other. We took off on a brilliant note. We sat, stalked our schoolmates, bitched away to glory, ate and slept. We were going pretty strong, until one day when she bought a lousy little Persian cat to the room. It was furry and light. It felt really nice to throw her across the room. She would just land smoothly like a fluffy ball. One day when I was sitting on my bed, figuring out further ways to irritate the cat, I rested my hand on one part of my bed and found to my horror that it was wet. I wasn’t carrying a water bottle and there were no wet clothes around. The ceiling wasn’t leaking either. What could it be? The furry little animal brushed her tail against my feet and looked at me. It was her. That devil of a cat had taken a leak on my bed.
I soon uncovered my bed and flung the bed cover out of the window. That was it. She found a better room with a roommate who could make love to cats and we were done.
Then walked in this lady who had mistaken herself to be my mother. She was in her mid thirties. I was leaving for college one morning, she looked at me and said, “Beta, do not forget to call me after you reach college.”
I don’t even remember the last time I called my mother to tell her I’d reached college.Every morning I woke up to her puffy eyes and big lips. Her face scared me more than her personality did until one fine day when I walked into my room and saw two female cops chilling on my bed.
This Mother India of a woman had filed a case against me, accusing me of stealing her diamond necklace. That too without any evidence. She had bought in two mysterious steel cupboards into the room, a week after she had shifted in. The cupboards were as rusted as her personality was. Long story short, she finally found the necklace in her cupboard. And was obviously, chucked out of the PG.
By now, I had developed a phobia towards roommates. Every time I heard somebody was coming to check the room, I’d mess up the room and make it look as unwelcoming as possible. I couldn’t live with a stranger anymore. I was scarred.
But since it was double bedroom, somebody had to shift in some day. And then, the inevitable happened.
She was a tall, bulky girl from Mumbai. She appeared to be friendly. I could see her trying really hard to make conversation with me. But I couldn’t give in. It only made me suspicious. I couldn’t even tell her the reason behind this behavior. What if she thought I was a thief? Was she too plotting something behind my back?
Eventually, through my friends she came to know the reason behindmy attitude. She gave me my space. We had the occasional small talk, and that was it. We shared a semi-formal relationship. We were comfortable being around each other. The only problem was, she stank like a pig. Too bad her name was ‘Khushbu’. But, it was still better than dealing with a person who had a stinky personality like my ex-roommate.
Once, Z from the other room was talking to her mother over the phone as she lay on my bed with the dirty sole of her feet touching my bed cover. “Yes maa, I am in Khushbu’s room”, she said to her mother. Lying down on my bed, with her head rested on my pillow and using my charger to charge her phone, Z had the audacity to say that she was in “Khushbu’s room”.
This is my room as well. Khushbu shifted in only two months back. But I have been staying here since almost a year. Khushbu comes back at only 9 in the night but I come back at 4 in the evening, soon after college. Khushbu doesn’t stay in the room over the weekend. But I am glued to the room, irrespective of what day it is. So I can say, it is more of my room than Khushbu’s.
Soon, Khushbu was going to get married. She had to shift back to Mumbai. Hell broke loose. My mind was flooded with those thoughts again. I had mini panic attacks thinking what my new roommate would be like. But the fact that I did not have to share my room with somebody, even if it was for a while kept me going.
For a while, there was nobody who would sit on my bed other than me. Nobody else would use my plate or spoon. Nobody other than me would use my towel to wipe their hands. All that I owned would be used by me and just me.
P had a mole on the left side of her upper lip. She reminded me of a malnutritioned version of the South Indian Actress, Simran. She seemed to be decent. But she was messy. She used to eat on plates and leave them to rot and smell next to her bed. It was summer and I had noticed a number of fruit flies in my room. I cleaned all my stuff and asked her to clean her side, but the flies persisted for weeks. Finally I got her to clean her stuff up while I helped. I discovered that her mom had sent her a fruit basket— a fruit basket that my roommate had piled papers on top of and forgot about until it rotted under her desk for over a month. Apparently, she’d actually noticed it about a week earlier, but she was too passive to tell me about it and didn’t know how to clean it up herself.
P too never particularly liked me. She fell sick quite often. Whenever she used to sneeze, I used to cover my face most definitely making her feel miserable about sneezing. I have been quite snobbish that way.
P left in a month and K moved in. She seemed to be somebody who hasn’t been exposed to the cruel world yet. Even though she was 23, she was as innocent as a 13 year old. I felt guilty after cracking a dirty joke in front of her once. It was midnight and I woke up to go to the loo. I saw her resting like a child next to me, snoring mildly. I returned from the loo to see her t-shirt raised past her midriff. It almost looked like a crop top. She was making happy, quite energetically.
Even though I’m no prude, it unnerved me quite a bit. I could not sleep on my bed next to her, since then. I was scarred again.
It made me so anxious that I went back to shaking my legs incessantly. I was replaying K’s actions in my mind when ‘K’ put her hand on my leg to get me to “stop the annoying habit that was getting on her nerves”.
Since then, I have been sleeping in my friend ‘T’s’ room, waiting for her to leave. I cannot look at her in the same way anymore. I’ve heard stories of roommates becoming best friends. But in my case, they just become stories.