The flatmate's moving out in a couple of days. And I guess I should be used to it, considering the number of them who've moved in and out in the last 23 months I've been here. When the German couple moved out - the first of the lot to do so - I felt a little bereft. I'd gotten used to their friendly yet non-interfering presence. Cursory conversations in the kitchen, polite smiles in the passage - that was the extent of our interaction. It matched perfectly with my need for solitude.
Next came the fairy-tale girls - Cinderella and Snow White. I'm not kidding about one of those names. They came in and shook up the somnolent establishment from the first day itself. I entered the house to find all the bathroom paraphernalia on the floor in the passage. "We've got a cleaner to spruce up the bathroom," said one of them, "it was such a mess." It most certainly wasn't. The Germans were neat to a fault, and I'm quite particular myself. I was partly-miffed but also partly-relieved to have orderly flatmates.
That initial burst of tidiness concealed a rather contrary sloppiness which I discovered in the months that followed. There were other quirks as well - cooking after 11 p.m., canoodling with boyfriends outside the elevator and so on. It didn't bother me much because I kept to myself.
One of them moved out shortly, and a friend's friend moved in. She'd hit a rough patch and needed support and encouragement. I introduced her to friends, extended a shoulder when needed, and also allowed her unlimited access to my fiercely-guarded bookshelf. Things changed for her, and then changed some more and she decided to head back to India.
I wasn't looking forward to adjusting to new flatmates. And as fate ordained, I didn't have to. I got a new flatmate alright, but this was someone familiar. I could walk into his room and demand a packet of chips or harangue him with laptop woes, as well as throw a fit at unwashed utensils. There were days when I didn't see him and there were days when I woke him just to have a conversation. We had fights and arguments, and days of stonewalled silence, as well as moments of quiet friendship. Who'd have thought an intolerable younger brother could make a perfect flatmate?
Life moves on, and a new flatmate might soon move in. I'm not looking forward to it, but am not dreading it either.