Once upon a bedsitter …

Recently, a pal told me about purgatory. That he’d love the place. He pictured a small room. Where after one dies, their soul gather in some lounge to listen to jazz music and sip fortified holy wine as they await the second coming. I burst his bubble of course. I told him he can comfortably do that in my bedsitter. I love it so much. I can stand ceremoniously on a chair to claim it.

A bedsitter is a stop gap place to live in your early 20s before being able to buy a home of your own at 28. Hahaha. Yeah. I said 28! It’s an unfortunate cul-de-sac that’s more of a dead-end street or a blind alley. Only one inlet/outlet. It can mistakenly be confused for a kinyozi (barber’s shop) but it is the ultimate sign of God’s love to a young bachelor. Many times, getting a good one is quite the task. The ones around are either taken, or taken for granted.

We, of the bedsitter battalion. We are young. Not always. But mostly. We are the desperately aspiring hermit. We are on a treadmill on the right direction. We are the renegades. Future sponsors. We look suspicious too. I realized that last month when the landlady held my money in the light just to make sure it’s real. Is that the reason why we, of the bedsitter battalion, still have to compulsorily file iTax returns too like everyone else? Really? Mr. President? 😀

I live in a rather prissy one. Frankly, I don’t understand some house-hunting agents’ profligate use of the term ‘studio’ for a good, boxy bedsitter like this one. It’s what they call it  here. I opted to stick to the old ‘bedsitter’ name because of where I sit quite often. In the same building lives an ex-girlfriend. Let me elaborate. An ex girlfriend is a girl who is your neighbor but thinks she should never talk to you. So what you do; you dramatize a relationship in your head. Afterwards, you switch it off by telling yourself, ‘It’s over baby’. Then, you laugh it off. It suits your ego and your self-esteem is still yours. We don’t meet that much though; thanks to my distorted sleeping schedule. In fact I don’t meet neighbors that much.

The only useful door here leads me to the other inhabitants of the building. Fellow moles. Whose voices I always hear, but whose faces I’ve decided, in my excruciating youthfulness, never to see. Leave early and reappear late. That’s the trend. I’ll admit most of the new tenants’ to the building arrive for their first time at night. They are simple people. They arrive carrying their things like a hawker. Funny lot these are.

These people will probably read themselves in a blog with posts like this one and think, ‘Oh yeah, I relate!’ No! You don’t relate. You get stalked. Your conversations get eaves dropped. Late in the night. Whisper, fellows, whisper. Bedsitter walls have ears. I know who got his leather jacket burnt after a hired cleaner ironed it. I also know who told his boyfriend that ‘she needs space’. Probably because she’s living in a bedsitter. Know what? My next-door lad’s alarm clock wakes the both of us. Or let me frankly say ‘just me’. Then, I have to sneak into his quarters and switch it off. That, and struggling to find salt, midway into cooking, in the suitcase under the bed, is among many of the ways the dubious bedsitters are like their dubious owners.

Having a bedsit neighbor with fine taste in music is the crown though. It overrides the whole ‘walls with ears’ hullabaloo. There’s this neighbor whose songs just make me want to have a summer adventure with someone and fall in love with them while playing the guitar :). Problem is, we have no summer in Kenya and I don’t know how to entice a guitar, let alone seduce tunes out of it.

However, there’s always enough space in a bedsitter. You can sleep in any room by just changing its name. I’ve realized I get to sleep better in the living room. And, I do that when I want. I also always have breakfast in bed. There’s enough space to check up on all of your stuff with one sweeping glance while ticking through a check-list right from the comforts of a bed. People have been giving crippled excuses on why they don’t decorate their bedsitters and how hard it is for that space. What do you need house plants in the little hovel for, yet you always have a perfect view of your kale and lettuces on the kitchen cabinet? Well, I decorate mine with beautiful visitors at times.

The last time I uttered the word ‘bedsitter’, I was outside church. It was after service. Chatting up a pretty old geezer, he confessed ‘it’ fueled a pretty odd kind of nostalgia. Old glory. Bedsit. Mostly a single guy’s pad. Bachelor’s runway. It’s different for me. ‘Bedsitter’ elicits that ‘melting plastic’ smell. Many a jug’s handle has suffered loss by cooking near the flame. I used to pity my ‘wallow in bedsitter agony’ every evening until I entered this supermarket in Rongai; quite smaller than my agony. I sighed. Mostly because you know your relationship with the ‘little cave’ won’t be permanent; it’s a great strain. You have to buy things that are not very permanent. Or too big. Most likely, easily disposable. I suggest you only buy food. A tray of eggs is like what a first aid kit is in a car. Compulsory!

Some times, you forget to turn off the tap. Then you go to bed. One such plumbing mistake in a bedsitter would find you waking up by the seaside. Life can be a total beach in a bedsitter. Black-outs in bedsit land? Misery too. I woke up to one last week. Still on the bed, I fumbled for a candle on the table. With my hand. In the dark. I let my fingers do the walking as they swept past cold potatoes and smashed them. My hand had unconsciously been deep in cold soup at the bottom of the sufuria all the time. Those are the only ghostly experiences I’ve had.

The rest are kind of heavenly. For example, at times I sleep in my bed but wake up in the gym. I do sit-ups during 3-4am. That’s when the body is its weakest. I guess, that’s the time most people die in their sleep too. Also, that’s the time I normally stare through the only window after every fifty sit-ups. The sunny perfect views. The ones that make me want to get out of bed super early, walk up a mountain, and watch the sunrise. But I don’t. I just walk to the bathroom from where I can easily watch a music video on a laptop that’s on the bed. Easy.

Once in a while, there’s a light skin lizard sneaking up mosquitoes on the wall. Bedsit land. My only home. The little hovel. Age will be the eviction notice. Do you experience a unique feeling when you arrive at some places? Like chills? Maybe it’s endorphins being released. Some places can have that effect on us. Like this place. I find fragments of myself in here. Look around. I can see a thousand people just like me. However, I’m waiting for something. I’m only passing time. Or ain’t we?


17 thoughts on “Once upon a bedsitter …

  1. “What do you need house plants in the little hovel for, yet you always have a perfect view of your kale and lettuces on the kitchen cabinet? Well, I decorate mine with beautiful visitors at times”

    Lol. Because I know them :D. Lovely piece!

    Liked by 1 person

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