A video has been circulating on social media. A man is cooking ugali in his bedsitter. As he serves the ugali, he trips on a basin and the ugali falls in the toilet. I know those who haven’t lived in a bedsitter, are wondering kwani how small are these rooms? They are tiny. You might sleep in your bed but wake up in your neighbor's because you stretched a little bit too much.
Whoever came up with bedsitters had a brilliant idea. They are affordable, convenient, and you can almost do everything from one place. Like, wash clothes while watching the TV. Cook from the bed. It’s also hard for something to get lost because everything is within your vicinity. All that you own in this life, you can see it with your eyes.
Living in a bedsitter is like living in a shoe. A shoe with a bathroom and a toilet in it. I appreciate that. The bathroom, not the shoe, because have you ever shared a washroom with 30 people? They leave all kinds of diseases and dirt on the floor making it slippery and disgusting.
Here are the struggles of living in a bedsitter.
The Smells That Never Leave
Some people have one window and some have a window that also serves as a door. Surely, how can a human being live like a prisoner? As if they are forbidden from seeing the light? It’s because of this reason that the house will always have a weird smell. And if you cook Omena (lake Victoria Sardine), that smell will stick on everything. The sufurias, cups, the clothes, your skin… Even if you bathe, the following day people will ask if you had omena for supper.
Someone said when you are cooking the fish, the radio will automatically tune itself to Ramogi Fm. It’s even worse if you use a stove, your clothes will smell like a stove for five years.
The Walls Are Too Thin
You will hear everything. And from everything I mean, your neighbors having sex. You will hear beds squeaking and creaking and someone asking the other ‘who is your daddy’. Or, hii kitu ni ya nani. Lies will be told because this is Nairobi. Yule ananipea ndiye anakupea.
If you snore, fart or pee loudly, your neighbor will hear. And if there was a water outage, people will think the issue has been fixed and you’ll hear people telling others to fill their mtungis.
If you are with your girlfriend and then your girlfriend calls, you can’t excuse yourself to go and pick the call. Because who will you say is calling you at 10 PM to ask if you’ve eaten? You can’t argue with someone and decide to be dramatic and hide yourself in the bedroom or bang the door. No. You’ll have to stay there and pretend you don’t have anger issues.
You can’t change your clothes without closing the door because you never know who will walk in on you. Africans are not the kind of people who love knocking. They are so confident, they think they own every place.
September 25th, A man entered my house. I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me. I thought God had sent a husband. You know he works in mysterious ways. Maybe a pillar of cloud had led him there. I was from the shower and I couldn’t imagine how perfect the timing was. And because God had not prepared him for what lay ahead, he quickly shut the door and walked away.
Noise Noise Noise
People will wake you up whether you like it or not. On weekends, they will force you to listen to their shitty music because everyone believes they have a lovely playlist. The windows will tremble, the walls will feel like those of Jericho and you’ll sit there wondering if Jesus died so you could live this kind of life.
Everyone keeps track of what happened. Who fought who and whose husband was found with a mpango wa kando. We know Martin had a hooker he refused to pay last month and mama Karis was found with Brenda’s dress, the one that grew legs and ran.
Ghosts Can’t Even Scare You
Ghosts need space to play with your mind. They want to be in the kitchen when you are in the living room and when you are in the living room, they want to watch the TV. These are stories only people in bigger houses can relate to. How are things going to get intense and dramatic in a bedsitter?