It’s one in the morning. You are on the rooftop of your hostel room. It’s cold as f**k but you are angry as f**k so you’re pretending not to feel the cold. At least the stars are out today. There were no stars when you were out at two in the morning last week. There were only clouds. The night was dark. So tonight is better because there are stars and you can see the moon.
I’m sure they told you that campus would make you many things. But did they tell you it would make you a stargazer? Because that’s what you’ve become. You are looking up at the dark, starry sky right now. Two hours ago, as you walked to your hostel from class, you were looking up at the same dark, starry sky. You only stopped looking up to greet the two watchmen at the gate. They even know you by name – you’re such a familiar part of the night for them.
As you look up, your eyes rest on a hook shaped group of stars. Seeing the hook is slightly comforting. It’s always there for you, every night that you need it to be – as long as there are no clouds.
The cold has become unbearable. You think of going back to your room. Maybe they are done by now. But it’s only been five minutes so they’re most probably still at it. You have to make a choice: The biting July cold or the loud and disgusting sounds the two people in your room are making? If only they were quieter, if only they didn’t make the double decked bed feel as if it was going to collapse any minute… it would be a bit more bearable. But they are so loud… and vigorous.
Are you sure they heard you banging the door on your way out? Not that they would care, even if they did hear you.
But you’ll get sick if you stay out here longer. So you drag your frozen legs forward over the concrete. You can’t feel your arms so you look down to make sure they are still there… They are. Just as you get to the stairs, you stop and look down. They haven’t started building the first floor of this hostel. From your position on what will one day be the first floor, you wonder whether you would die if you jumped. You probably wouldn’t. You are more likely to make yourself a pathetic cripple by jumping, so you tell yourself to stop being stupid and start your walk down the stairs.
You get to the ground floor and as you draw closer to your room, you listen for those sounds. You can’t hear them and that gives you hope so you drag your feet faster. Just as you’re about to place your hand on the door to your room, you hear something: soft moans. Shit! You can’t believe they are still not done. How in the world is it even possible?
It must be that omena they are eating nowadays. Oh! And the grade 2 maize flour. And of course the raw bananas they boil for breakfast.
You hear one of your neighbors fumbling with the door to their room and you quickly open your door and get in. You would look stupid if a neighbor found you stranded outside the door to your room. Once inside, as you lock the door, you hear them panting. You also hear “Thanks Babe” somewhere. Who does that?
You roll your eyes so hard it hurts. You think of flipping on the switch but that would mean having to see them and you don’t want that because you’ll probably puke. So you feel your way to the double decked bed and climb onto the top compartment.
Within no time, you hear them snoring. And yes, they snore as loud as they… do that other thing. You find yourself laughing. You struggle not to laugh loudly because you don’t want to wake them up – you can’t risk it. With the sort of untiring enthusiasm they have, they’ll probably start doing it again and there’s already the risk that they’ll be up at three to do it again, so you try your best to laugh in a whisper.
Why are you laughing?
Because you’ve just remembered that you have a class tomorrow at seven and that there’s a take away cat to be submitted. You have not done the cat. But that’s not the funny part. The funny part is that now that your room is finally silent and your bed is not moving and creaking under you, you know there’s this little thing called insomnia to deal with. Now that you need it the most, your sleep will desert you. So you can’t even wake up early tomorrow to complete the cat. And of course, even if you manage to get your body to the class, you will most probably sleep throughout. It gets funnier and you find yourself laughing hysterically, but still in a whisper.
Eventually, you stop laughing. Then you feel like crying. You know what makes you want to cry like a baby? The fact that you’re paying rent for a room that is practically not yours; a room that is supposed to be a home but that has become hell. You feel so angry when you think about it that your head overheats and you feel like it will burst. You had to eat in the mess because there was no space for you to cook in your room. They were busy cooking their omena and ugali. Of course they couldn’t include you. Your growth is stunted because you carry a bag that is almost as heavy as you – as you leave in the morning, you have to carry everything that you will need for that whole day, until you come back at eleven at night. Your classmates say you love books because you’re always in the library. You feel like punching them in the face sometimes.
You could always move to another hostel. The only problem is where to get the extra money required to move seeing as your dear mother struggles to send you the current rent of two thousand shillings.
You could talk to your roommate about your… umm, situation. But the last time you tried to, he told you that if it bothers you so much, you should move out. And then he told you to get a girl so that you could stop being jealous.
You start laughing again and this time, you just let it all out. It doesn’t matter whether they wake up. Halfway into your laughter, you let out a violent sneeze and your nose starts running. Perfect, you have a cold.
Somewhere towards morning, Her Highness the Queen of Sleep will deign to come to you. As she carries you away, you’ll wish that tomorrow never comes. But you know that it always does so you’ll smile because crying is not for men.