In an earlier episode, I told you about my flatmates. Barney the English, and Jason the Chinese. It will be interesting for you to know that since then we have had three other flatmates. Suffice to say that Barney left our flat for reasons best known to him, though I assume that to be that he wanted to be closer to his musician friends and I make no further assumptions on this. For all you care, it could be because I finished his last bottle of red wine at the last soiree we had in the flat and he was annoyed about that. After Barney left we had Nicole, who is black, but whose nationality I never got around to asking. Nicole came to stay in for a few days in Barney’s deserted room because of some flooding issues or so, in hers. She didn’t stay too long but in the time she was around, I got to find out she was a total vegetarian and did not eat meat at all. I can’t imagine not eating meat at all. Since Nicole is beautiful and looks healthy, I will assume veg works for her. I remember when I tested the veggie idea in secondary school and asked my mother to bring pineapples and fruits as opposed to jollof rice and meat during visiting days. I barely survived a term before I gave up. I have given up since then anyway. However, why write about roommates again if that is all there is to it?
Let me indulge your imagination by telling you the geographical make up of the entire selection of residents in my flat and their respective idiosyncracies. The final 5 residents are as follows:
Me – as the title says, Nigerian; Saleh – Arabian; Sepi – Canadian; Jason – Chinese; and Zara – English. I was joking about this make up with a friend when I realized we had someone from every continent except South America and Australia (which really I consider more of a big game reserve rather than a continent. I hope no Aussi is reading this); On South America, as you all know I am qaurter-Brazilian, we can rule that out too. Even though we all now know that our world is not flat, in a figurative punned sense, our flat is the World cramped in 300 square metres of space. Each in his/her continent/room – while our shared kitchen/lounge is the Global Politics Zone, where we have to bring our cultural and personal idiosyncrasies to bear on each other while constantly trying to play by the rules of civility so as not to breed war.
Back to the final five, you already know much about Jason so I won’t bore you; and it really does not matter if you don’t know me. Saleh however is the third person in our flat of five and is quite an interesting character. Affable, fun loving, round in a not-too-fat way, Saleh hates America and Americans like shit (pardon the cuss word – its the best word I could find for Saleh’s contempt for the West). He thinks Americans are the chief corrupters of Saudi Arabians: “they only sleep with girls and drink and other Saudi Arabians want to be like them”. He also thinks Americans only go where they see an exploitative opportunity.
Saleh laughs a lot and carries around an electronic English/Arabic dictionary that makes me feel lucky having learnt English as a first language. It is not unusual to say a word like ‘resonant’ and before you can say ‘Allah Akbar’ Saleh pulls out his dictionary and the little thing belts out an Arabic pronunciation of the word. When he is talking too, he usually pauses to check whether his words are rightly selected. This draws on some patience from me as the listener. But overall, Saleh’s not bad with his English. He is quite rich from the way he talks and he does not brag – in fact he is simple. All his family members are PhD holders in America or England and his father is a much respectable person in Saudi. His favourite drink is Vodka and this is often our common front during our regularly held International Discussion Summit (IDS), often hosted by Africa as we discuss Oil exports in the Global Politics Zone. Refreshment during this summit is usually Vodka and Chicken – Vodka always coming from the Middle-East while the Chicken is supplied from African poultries.
Despite his age (22), Saleh claims that if his sister (who happens to be a student too) finds him drinking vodka, she will inform his father, who for certain, will kill him. Parental discipline in Saudi is not to be trifled with. By the way, Saudi Arabians don’t leave female children to go and study abroad ‘unattended’ and that is the reason why Saleh had to come to study here because his elder sister got an admission. The whole motive is to preserve the virtue of their women and both family members can serve as checks on one another. Saleh’s reflections on Arabian marriage is very much like the African marriage in terms of the family involvements and the cultural nuances. In fact it could be worse because in Saudi, it is families that marry, not children. So you could actually be meeting your spouse-to-be a night before the wedding. Yet Saleh says divorce is rare and only in cases where husbands don’t take care of their wives do they have divorce cases. Considering that Islam allows polygamy, I can’t fathom what the problem of the Western One-man-one-wife, love-is-the-key-ingredient model is, that divorce rates are so high even when it is ‘our’ choice to marry our spouses.
Sepi, however is a Canadian girl who is slightly older than the other occupants. Her surname sounds like ‘Fokasibe’ and makes me laugh anytime I see or think about it. She should be slightly older than me but I don’t know this for certain. Sepi is in Business school and looks every bit the sharp business woman type. She is very homely and keeps the kitchen clean. She is the Chairperson of our Committee of Nations for Environmental Stuff (CONES) founded in 2010, of which Africa is the co-chair. Saudi rarely cooks and England is an active participant in the committee. However, China is the most erring nation of all since he rarely cleans up. Need I add that Africa (also closely followed by China) contributes the most to climate change and greenhouse gas emmissions in the Global Politics Zone when frying stew and other stuff (as most others only do microwaving). To digress here, I think I must get some credit for my newly acquired culinary skills. I cook so much, I don’t miss home food. As I rarely eat out, every course from poundo yam to cow leg is offered in my department of pot affairs.
Back to Sepi, Sepi is quite possessive and of all the flatmates she is the only one who writes her name on all her food items and cooking utensils and complains when someone uses her stuff without her knowledge. In my opinion, if we are ever going to have the 4th World War, it will be between the American allied forces (Britain inclusive) and China. Sepi is quite a good communicator and one of my favourites in the flat but because she does not drink Vodka, Canada is often not involved in our International Discussion Summits. I don’t get to see Sepi often and therefore I don’t know too much about her. Most times I have to check up on her after a while of having not seen her to be sure she is still alive and she is usually happy that I do. I guess if we did not gain anything from having known Barney, we gained that. Part of the things he left behind in the flat was the spirit of friendliness.
As for Zara, she is English and very recently moved into Barney’s room. Apart from the fact that she pimped up ourGlobal Politics Zone with a few personal effects on her arrival, she is still very much a dark horse to me. But trust me, its only a matter of time, I should be able to tell you about her.
If you have come this far, <a href=”http://www.ltefnj.org/certificate.pdf”>Click here to print</a> your certificate ‘cos you have tried! and that is as far as the story goes.