Let me start telling you my story, which I will be continuing in a couple of posts to come!
After living in a palatial home for about 20 years, I first moved in to hostel room for two, half as big as my bedroom. The hostel was close to the school in which I taught, and hence I had no other option left but to move-in.
One fan and a small bedroom lamp was the ‘luxury’ that I had in my room, apart from a half broken coat on which I had to sleep on. Luckily I had a good bed that dad brought from home! It was a hub of mosquitoes but my fragile roommate couldn’t bear the smell of mosquito coils. In short, I sat and killed mosquitoes every night, instead of enjoying a sound sleep after tiring works.
We didn’t have an attached bathroom, but had to take turns and use one of the three common bathrooms and two toilets meant for almost seventy five inmates in the hostel. Making matters worse, our warden always made it a point to lock the inside toilets during day time, asking us to use the outside ones, which were extremely dirty, saying it would help us save water. But we actually had a well inside the hostel premise, and there was absolutely no scarcity of water. I think it was too cruel on her part to for making us use those dirtiest of bathrooms, even after knowing about the possible health consequences. Yet, she didn’t bother to give her decision and second thought. Her water saving theories went too further and once I saw her locking the water supply to the inside bathrooms, saying we used more water than what was allotted, and this happened when a few of the inmates were taking bath! Above all, the bathrooms were hardly cleaned once in a week, and we had to make sure to constantly complain every week and get them cleaned.
Want to hear yet another bizarre rule? We were allowed to take bath only once a day, and were not allowed to take bath in evenings, however sweaty and smelly we were! If someone was seen violating this, our warden always made it a point to embarrass her before everyone thus making sure that she never does it again. But I knew how to manage and get myself a good bath, and used to carry only my mug and soap to the bathroom, in the pretext of going towards the wash basin to wash my face.
Being a staunch vegetarian, food was what scared me to death! For lunch and dinner we had rice non-vegetarian dishes often, along with just one veggie dish, and the kitchen staffs were not really kind-hearted to get me vegetarian dishes in place of the non-vegetarian dishes served. So I had to make myself happy with whatever I was given, as I knew that complaining would not help. We were never allowed to bring plates from our homes, and instead food was served in the plates that they provided, which were often dirty and stinking.
There was just one plug point in the room to charge our mobile, and we had to do it without the warden’s knowledge as mobiles were not allowed inside the hostel, even for working women like me, as she feared the possible line of ‘boyfriends’ that we would have if we had mobiles. But she was hardly aware that everyone had mobiles with them, and had the required knowledge in ‘electronics’ to charge their mobiles without her knowledge.
After living in the room for about one month, I was asked to move to another room, as there one of the ‘ favorites’ of our warden was about to arrive, and they wanted the room for her. I shifted to another room, and was shocked to see that it had fourteen other girls in it, or in short the room was jam-packed with fifteen people. Adding to my worry, the room was just above the cooking place, and I felt like I entered in to a hot furnace, as the room was filled with all the heat and fumes from the kitchen. Problems didn’t end here, and I soon came to know that except for the room where I stayed initially, others were only provided with limited power supply. The switches of fans and lights were connected to a power plug in the warden’s room, and she often switched it on after nine in the night and used to switch it off at five thirty in the morning, and yet give us huge lectures on mounting electricity bills. After having a tiresome day I couldn’t even enjoy the liberty of having some time enjoying cool breeze, and had to go the ‘nature’s way’ opening all the windows of my room. But there was another trouble awaiting me!
…………………………………………….. (Will be continued)