By Parthshri Arora May. 21, 2017
Bad roommates are like dementors – they suck out all the happiness from you. My first set of roomies didn't believe in closing the toilet door while peeing, and they never ever aimed for the pot.
My first roommates in college were A and P.
I was at the peak of my loneliness, rejected by a girl I loved. They took to me to a shady government-run bar in Chennai, and we drank some of the worst alcoholic beverages known to man – a vodka called Vodka, and a beer called Horse Power which was oddly yellow. We drank and then we drank some more. We were going to rule the journalism world, hang out with Katrina Kaif, and own iPhones before they were even officially launched. These guys were solid. Life was beautiful.
And then it was not.
A and P, I discovered, had strange rooming habits. “A” covered his bed with a fluorescent green mosquito net, Cinderella style, and wore the smallest tighty-whities to bed. He made sure I woke up to the sight of a party in his pants every morning.
P, on the other hand, played an elaborate game of “So You Think You Can Smell?” He often dipped his clothes in a bucket of water in the bathroom, but never bothered to hang them to dry. Five days. Ten days. Fifteen days would pass. Our bathroom always smelt like an overused compartment at a morgue.
With time, things just kept getting weirder.
“A” would beat the ginger for tea loudly with the same hammer he used to beat meat, and P wouldn’t leave the room for months, even as a strange smell of humid Chennai air mixed with sweaty socks festered. It took us six months to get him to go out and buy veggies. An event so significant, he Snapchatted it. Neither of them believed in closing the door while peeing, and they never ever aimed for the pot, freely dropping a yellow waterfall from Kashmir all the way to Kanyakumari.
Do Indians generally make for bad roommates? In India, living away from the parents is still the apex of freedom for most people – a freedom that can empower some to truly embrace themselves.
Living with bad roommates is like a prolonged visit from dementors – they suck out all the happiness from you. In the years that I lived with A and P, I felt dirty and I never drank tea. I believed I was cursed. It was only years later, after many drunken evenings of reliving bad roommate stories, that I realised I actually had it easy.
Bad roommate tales are like gory urban legends, except that they are real and everyone has one that leaves them scarred. A friend’s roommate in Kolkata would take a pack of Pure Magic biscuits to the bathroom every day, eat them while taking a dump, throw the packet in the toilet, and then never ever flush, leaving a mixture of Pure Magic faeces with a wrapper in the crapper. Another friend lived with a dude who would enjoy his “happy time” quite often in bed itself, while his roommate was around. Out of fucks to give, he would then wipe his hand on the sheets, and would continue sleeping on them. The sheets, unsurprisingly, would remain unchanged for days on end, with the smell of his manliness becoming the most relatable odour in the room.
I began to wonder if the bad roommate prototype is a cultural thing, since everyone I know in the country has a tale of horror to tell. Do Indians generally make for bad roommates? In India, living away from the parents is still the apex of freedom for most people – a freedom that can empower some to truly embrace themselves. A freedom often associated with the colour yellow, or that smells of ejaculation, or barks like a dog (yes, that’s a story for another day). But then I discovered this aggregation of a global Reddit thread about bad roommates and it is filled with horror stories of roommates who stored cups of pee, who filled the freezer with whole chickens for no reason, or played the trumpet while drunk on rum all night. At the top of the pile, sits the story of a roommate who did acid, stripped, and shat on the floor, after which his poor bunky’s dog ate the poo. In the world of worst roommate stories, this one takes the Pulitzer.
After we graduated, I never met A and P again. I moved on to get a new job and a new roomie. But by now I had wised up, and didn’t forge pacts about hanging out with Katrina Kaif. In fact, my new roommate and I seldom spoke. We worked different shifts and rarely bumped into each other.
Life was great, until one day he knocked on my door in the middle of the night. I remembered what arguably the worst roommate in history, Rust Cohle, once said, “Time is a flat circle”, and groggily opened the door with my eyes half-closed.
He was standing there butt naked with a dead mouse in his hand.
Fuck, I was cursed.
Lover of baby animals, Arsene Wenger, Damien Rice, Peggy Olsen and overly long podcasts. Tweets at @parthsarora.
Confused about most stuff. Writes things.