I’ve always wanted a roommate. I’ve always fantasized about how good it would be to have a person to talk to after a shitty day of class; how great it would be to cook, try out new recipes and enjoy a meal together.

I am a freshman in university. Just a few days ago, I’d just checked in to my new home — a twin-shared six bedded flat with a commune room outside.

My heart was hammering against my chest when I turned the door knob to the all-girls house I would be living at for the time being, anxiously expecting my roomates to welcome a junior to the dormitory. When the door was finally opened, it was as if there was nobody inside. Apparently, they were too engrossed in their laptops that they didn’t even realise there was a person standing in the doorway, bags in hand, waiting and wanting to be noticed.

Disheartened, I mustered a smile at their bored-looking profiles before walking to my room to unpack and settle down.

My roommate’s name is Julian. She is a Malay girl with a great personality. We talked for a bit then I decided to unpack first. While I did so, I noticed that the windows were closed and the floor was oily. It wasn’t hard to pinpoint where all the grease came from — Her hair. It stunk to the point the entire room was bathing in that awful stench. It was as if she hadn’t bathed in what seemed like years. Or if she did, she never shampooed or conditioned her hair at all. Ever. Well, as long as I use more detergent when mopping the floor and spray some Febreeze here and there in the room, it should be okay, right? I’m definitely not troubled about that, I thought to myself.

While we were chattering away merrily about campus life, my gaze was suddenly fixated on her side table. Her small study table was a mess of stationary, books and other knuck knacks. One particular cup caught my eye though. It was a transparent plastic cup with some liquid in it. I squinted at it in the dim lighting of our bedroom. I realised that it was no random liquid, it was a cup of Néscafe coffee. A cup of Néscafe left unattended for at least 4 to 5 days whereby it’s sediments had sunk to the bottom of the cup, and left a pool of muddy brown water on top. I inched closer. Ants were swarming in and out of the cup and their little feet were making their way to MY bed and MY side table. Wow, isn’t that exciting.

I wasn’t really grossed out by that either. Well, as long as you wash the damn cup and eradicate all the damn ants, it shouldn’t be a problem. Not a big one anyway. I can cope with that. It’s within my limits, I told myself as I willed myself to calm down.

I gaze around the room again and it fell on her bed. Her bedsheets were grey (judging by the colour of the undercovers, they were originally meant to be white) and grimy. I was surprised to also see that there were small dark spots in the middle of her bed. Was that ink? Or just coffee stains? Curious, I inched closer to her and craned my neck for a clearer look.

Based on my experience of being a girl for the past 18 years, those spots were definitely DRIED PERIOD BLOOD STAINS. Julian, apparently noticing my icy stare at those blood stains, hastily moved her butt to the middle of the bed to conceal it, but to no avail.

My expression at that moment must had given me away, as Julian suddenly had a rueful smile plastered on her greasy face.

So long as you change the bedsheets, this shouldn’t be a problem, right? Right? I was even surprised at my own optimism.

I gulped down the surrounding air (wrong decision) and something new filled up my nostrils. I started retching and managed to control myself from actually puking. That unforgivable smell must be coming from the toilets. I walked outside the room, passing the commune room and managed to trace the terrible smell which was located in the shared bathroom of the whole dorm.

The scene before my eyes utterly obliterated my sanity. I could tolerate everything before this, but what I saw made me reach my absolute limit. There were so many used and browning sanitary pads — used by various girls in the house — left unattended on the floor and in the bathroom. That was where the horrid stench was coming from. This unforgivable smell of fresh/dried period blood was wafting to every single room, yet the others were just sitting there, ensnared in the screens of their laptops, oblivious to the toxic fumes they’re breathing in all day.

I’ve decided to just pack my bags and to crash at my friend’s room that night.


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