REF: THE INCOMING OCCUPANTS OF MY ROOM.
First of all, congratulations on acquiring what may well be the worst room in the whole campus and its environs. Not many can manage, within minutes of reporting to a new institution, to seal their fates completely and in such spectacular fashion. I know what you are thinking. What could possibly be wrong with it? And, more importantly, who the hell am I? Well, there was your first test of intelligence, and if you are still wondering what it is you are reading, then I have some bad news for you. Your first examinations are not going to be friendly.
I am going to keep my identity under wraps for several reasons, chiefly for my entertainment. It will not help your cause in any way to know who I am, and I have a disturbing suspicion that you don’t really care. (Yes, I detest your generation as well). All you need to know is that I am the guy who was unfortunate enough to occupy that dreadful room before you, that the experience has made me the man I am today and that I feel somewhat responsible for you, seeing as fate has the same hatred for us both. Aside from that, I am the guy who will walk past you in the halls of knowledge and give you that derisive smirk while inwardly roaring with laughter at your plight. Nice to meet you, son.
As for what is wrong with the hovel you paid three thousand shillings for, I couldn’t possibly know where to begin. Let’s just say that you have now been initiated into real life, and the first lesson is that life is not all pink flowers, rainbows and unicorns. And because I have an actual life to get back to, I will only fly by the essentials.
I’ll begin with the sockets. Better known as that cluster of wires that protrude from the base of the wall, right where your foot is occasionally bound to pass. I know that you are still young and that the most important thing in your life at the moment is your status update. I know that doting parents and exemplary performance in your high school examinations are responsible for that lustrous Samsung smartphone that you hold with painstaking daintiness. I also know that you are as we speak posting ‘lol’ on some ridiculous photo online, and that in a few minutes the recorded voice of some Russian woman will inform you that you have a new message from the girlfriend back home, while another beep informs you that your battery is critically low. It is at this point that you will become aware of your room’s lack of electrical outlets. Don’t swear, your troubles have just begun.
As a side note, I should mention that in a few weeks you will be in possession of neither the smartphone nor the girlfriend. But we’ll cross that bridge in due course. And it’s ok that you are beginning to question my sanity.
The sockets do work, by the way, so abandon the expletives and get practical. We are all very pleased that you got an A in Physics, but you are about to learn that all that knowledge is essentially useless if you do not have the guts to connect this wire with that terminal and that other wire with the aforementioned protrusions on the wall. No, that is not the janitor’s work. Yes, people get shocked all the time. No, no one cares. Of course you can write a protest letter to the Dean. Be sure to mention that you are a first year student, then maybe the family friends of your nephew’s great grandchildren’s descendants will enjoy the improvements made to the room.
Then there’s the furniture. It is very normal that the first things you examined were the seats and reading area. We all have our delusions of intense academic pursuits. We all assume that, just like in high school, there will be ‘preps’, where pin drop silence is in place and utter concentration achieved. Oh, to be young and foolish. Those tables are for stacking books you never really get to read; for placing your suitcase in case you arrive late and the closets are already taken by your roommates, all of whom are bigger than you; for scribbling assignments that are long overdue; for mounting your roommate’s computer and Sony sound systems, both of which you touch at your own peril; and for rolling chapati flour to sell for a pittance. The chairs are for carrying out of the room and into the students centre to watch Arsenal being introduced to football by either Manchester United or Barcelona. So you can stop planning study marathons.
I understand why the beds hold specific allure for you. No one has any doubts on the importance of sleep. Or other activities that require you to be in a supine position, of course. In all fairness, there is not much to complain about concerning the beds. They are sturdy and occasionally comfy, and they will be of value when you stagger back to your room on Friday evenings wondering why the ground is spinning. Thank God for the beds.
Naturally, you have some questions about the history of the room. That blackened spot on the wall is where Apollo attempted a self-sponsored experiment on the conductivity of water heater cables, to disastrous results. The broken windows are a testament to the revelation that Ngugi is an excellent javelin thrower when he’s drunk, and that when javelins are out of reach plates and mugs work just as well. The blood streak on the closet door is the portion Sam lost when his official girlfriend caught him serenading his unofficial one, and the crude drawings on the wall are a depiction of that dramatic event. Any and all injuries to the top bunk on the right, and to one of the chairs, are to be attributed to Ngugi’s friend Nancy from home. Let’s just say she was a bit expansive around the hips. And that faint smell you keep trying to identify is the whiff of a few weeks of liquor-brewing. We tried everything but we couldn’t eradicate it completely. Of course revealing these facts to anyone will get you killed.
Aside from that, the door closes firmly from inside but not from outside, the anthill in the corner is in fact the home of a very kind and outgoing mouse we named Jerry where he resides with his family, the hinges on the closet doors are loose and squeaky, and the only way to open drawer number two is to bang it repeatedly on the side with a closed fist. Oh, and the sockets have a slight issue with casting off random sparks.
That concludes your enlightenment. Go ye into the world and amuse it with thy ignorance. That room has produced legends, so…
Oh, and welcome to the rest of your life in campus.