12 January 2018

A Wan's Tale

Wan disliked the wall of his room that he shares with the bathroom. The wall now has water damage from a broken pipe in the cement structure, which causes the paint to break into small flakes of discoloured confetti. 

The wall is always wet with water that mold began to grow on the surface. The pink colour of the paint has turned into brownish yellow patches on the wall in a map-like pattern. He disliked it. 

Wan is a chemist by profession and on his mind, he formulated several chemical equations to explain the process of the water destroying the paint. The H2O, the resin, the acrylic finishing, Wan thought, are just chemicals reacting and producing new materials. The fungus is a total different equation, whereby Wan lacks comprehension. But he knows at cellular level, the fungus’ tales are of the chemical variety. Fungus uses H2O and the chemical in the paint as their food, and produce toxins as the byproduct. He might as of now be breathing one, he thought. 

For Wan, the ugliness of the wall doesn’t bother him the same way the failure of the wall from protecting his privacy that irritates him. The bathroom that he shares with another housemate often troubles him. The bathroom is the source of an invasion. 

The water from the wall seeps from the crack into his room, damaging the paint and gives rise to the growth of mold. He hates the sound of the people using the bathroom, but the wall passively allows those to penetrate his private space. 

The water is an intruder. The noise is an intruder.  

He wonders why his room is the only one in his house that has to endure the interference of the outside world. The master bedroom has its en suite bathroom. The small room is right in front of the bathroom, which means it doesn’t share any part of the bathroom. Wan is the unluckiest for having the medium room that is adjacent to the bathroom. Even when the door to Wan’s room is locked shut, he could not totally block everything from infiltrating.

He is often shaken awake at nights by the sound of his housemate switching on the light of the bathroom. That was the start. Once he gained his conscience from the rude awakening, his ears would involuntarily catch the sound of water splashing, the shampoo container lid popping; and the pipe vibrating from the flow of water to the tap, which would cause his brain to involuntarily imagine the activity in the bathroom. Wan feels like he was being violated. This is mental rape – he curses to himself. 

He paid RM350 every month for this room, with 2 months security deposit and RM175 utilities deposit. When he surveyed the house, he liked everything that he saw, since he has seen worse room before. A small room in an apartment nearby would set him back RM340, and that room doesn’t even have a window. The apartment was newly renovated and was owned by a company. He wouldn’t have to worry about pipe bursting on the wall, because darn it, the walls are made of plywood. The apartment now has 16 rooms, and only half of them have windows. To have the luxury of a window, Wan has to shed another RM40 from his pocket, which is ridiculous considering that the house feels like a refugee camp, even with windows.

His current house was almost perfect. He did saw the water damage on the wall, but it was a minor inconvenience, he thought at first, as compared to the other houses that he surveyed before. With a split unit air conditioner, a place that overlooks the urban landscape of Klang Valley, and a house with only 3 tenants, and most importantly a Unifi internet service, Wan knew this is the place he wanted to live in. 

It was until it’s too late that he realized he could not appreciate the invasion that comes from the bathroom. Wan sometimes misses his room in Flora Damansara. It was an even uglier apartment block, handrails on the stairs had rusted into nothingness, cats litter were like a decoration on the floor, but his unit was livable. 

His room was far from the toilet, which means he would not be waken at night to sounds of people peeing. He laughs at the comforting thought. His previous apartment block despite its ghetto-ness, has its own shop lots, 7-Eleven stores, and even restaurants. He could simply walk to buy food. As a marathon runner, Wan has his own favourite training track near Kepong which was 10 minutes away from his previous apartment by motorcycle, whereas he doesn’t know anywhere he could train nearby his new apartment. He is still struggling to adapt his routine into the new environment. 

Wan’s brain suddenly thinks of his father. It was because of his father that he had to move to this place. Before Wan received the offer for the chemist post, he was working as a technician in Sungai Buloh. His father then had a heart attack. Wan in a panic response, tendered his resignation in 24 hours and he rushed back to his hometown to care for his father. After his father was sufficiently recovered, Wan applied for another job and he had to relocate to somewhere nearer to his workplace. 

Ahh, the twists and turns of life, Wan thought. Just when his thoughts are drifting away to the land of slumber, Wan heard the snap of the light switch. His eyes queer for a second, but his brain wants to rest badly. But as his housemate smashed the door shut and loudly open the water tap, his brain woke up in protest. 

“Fuck!” Wan muttered under his breath.   

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