Rima was in her final semester of college. She shared a room at a paying guest accommodation with a girl who worked in an IT firm. Her name was Shyamoli.
Every Saturday morning Shyamoli left for home, returning on Monday after office. Rima had the room entirely to herself during the weekends.
On this particular Saturday afternoon, Rima was studying on her bed when a brown cockroach landed beside her pillow. Rima definitely wasn’t one of those girls who jumped at the sight of cockroaches. Her reactions were more restrained, like, “You think you can scare me? Huh? Come try me!”
She eyed the flat shiny brown mass, and the cockroach stared back, as if almost looking into her eyes. The audacity!
Rima selected a medium sized book from the ones scattered over her bed, and almost hit the cockroach. Almost! The arthropod was faster than her. It crept into the crevice between the bed and the wall. Realizing she had no intention of touching its hideous hairy legs, Rima backed away, and immersed herself into her books. How long would it hide anyway?
Later that night, Rima was watching old episodes of Castle on her laptop. She had had her dinner, brushed her teeth and changed into her nightgown. She had even hooked up three sides of the mosquito nets over her bed because she knew she’d feel too lazy afterwards. Rima perched herself in the small space on the bed that the half-hung mosquito net allowed. It was too hot to sit inside the net. One by one the episodes continued on her laptop as Rick Castle and Detective Beckett’s chemistry intensified. Rima loved how confident Stana Katic was as Detective Beckett. If only I could be like her.
When finally Rima thought it was enough and closed her laptop, it was half past two. The house was eerily silent. Even the girls in the next room who were shouting while watching some stupid romcom had fallen asleep.
Rima stifled a large yawn. She hooked up the fourth corner of the mosquito net, and went inside to tuck in the bottoms of the net below her mattress. And then she saw it again! The cockroach.
“I am too sleepy to run after you now. Go away!”
The cockroach sat unperturbed, staring at Rima with its lidless eyes.
After five minutes of intense staring, Rima had had enough. The cockroach was at the corner where she was about to tuck the net in. Exasperated, she thumped on the bed, hoping the impact would scare it away. It worked, but not in the way she hoped it to. The cockroach ran towards the other corner, between the wall and the bed.
Now, how was she supposed to find the cockroach and hush it away if it chose to sit in a crevice too narrow to slide her hand in? She was tired of this catch-me-if-you-can game.
Outside the net, Shyamoli’s bed stood, the bed sheet neatly covering it. Her blanket was folded on one end, and the pillow placed on top of it. The pink plastic broom with which she tidied the bed lay in front of the blanket.
Rima eyed her roommate’s bed with desire. Her eyelids were drooping, and the tube light seemed too harsh.
Will Shyamoli mind if I slept in her bed for one night?
Of course, not! She answered herself. At any rate, she’d tidy the bed first thing in the morning. Shyamoli wouldn’t even know her bed had been slept in. Plus, Rima couldn’t sleep in her bed when she knew the cockroach lurched at some corner. It would definitely come out to crawl all over her as soon as the light was switched off. Ugh! Those thorny legs.
Rima took her pillow, and hurriedly un-tucked the mosquito net. She hurled herself onto Shyamoli’s bed, and switched off the light with a flick on the bedside switch.
On Monday night her roommate returned. Rima was in her bed, reading. After Shyamoli had freshened up and tied her hair in a pigtail, she asked, “Hey, where’s the broom? I left it on the bed I think.” It was Shyamoli’s habit to dust the bed every night before going to bed.
Rima eyed at her roommate’s bed uneasily. Really, where was the broom? No one else came to their room except the maid. But she wouldn’t steal a broom, would she? Rima panicked. The room was her responsibility when Shyamoli wasn’t there.
Oh my God! She remembered then. The broom must have slipped under the blanket when she had lain on the bed. She had her feet towards it while sleeping that night. Geez, she had totally forgotten about the broom! Now Shyamoli must suspect something.
Hurriedly, Rima got off her bed and raised the blanket before Shyamoli could ask, “Hey! What are you doing?”
“Here you go!” Rima handed the broom to her.
Rima waited for the next question, “How did it end up there?” Should she explain now about that night? What if Shyamoli shouts at her? She knew she would, if she came to know Shyamoli was sleeping in her bed. Suddenly, the cockroach episode felt too silly.
“So…” Shyamoli began. Rima pursed her lips and eyed her. “How was the weekend?” Shyamoli finally asked and proceeded to tidy the bed.
Rima released the breath she had been holding back. I am such a chicken!
© 2015 Arpita Pramanick