The Spare Room

Growing up in a family of 5 children and almost always having relatives over, we never had the luxury of having a spare room. We eventually grew up, and my sister and I decided we were ready to leave the nest and we therefore moved in together in a relatively tiny house to try out what independence felt like. Mummy and Daddy though were not so sure that we were ready, especially since neither of us liked cooking so the condition was to get a house near theirs, I guess malnutrition was not an option. After proving ourselves, a year later, I went solo and this time away from where my parents lived. Now at 25 years old, with a basic earning and zeal to further my education, my living conditions deteriorated. I recall the first tiny servants’ quarter or ‘SQ’ as commonly referred to in Kenya, I ever lived in was at Nairobi West. My gate was right in the middle of a maize and sugar cane plantation.  Well, I did not know that initially and I feel I sort of got tricked. You see when I moved in the maize had been harvested so the field was clear. Furthermore, it was January usually a warm season and therefore the earth was all dry, even crusty. A few weeks later though, the rains came and the maize grew and so did my problems.

Having evening classes meant that I always got home late and had to grapple with the darkness within the maize plantation plus having to wade through the mud. But that was not even my worst nightmare. One morning as I wore my heels, I realized the left shoe was not fitting well. I snuggled my toes in some more, harder and harder. Then I thought I felt some wetness on my toes and so I decided to check what it was. To my horror, it was a big juicy SLUG that I had smashed with my toes!! I screamed my little heart out and would not wear closed shoes for weeks after that. During the rainy season slugs were everywhere. Another time as I got home in the evening tired as usual, I only realized too late that there was one cleaving on the padlock and that was after I had given it a handshake.

A few months later I moved houses and since then I have lived in decent and fairly comfortable houses save for the elusive ‘spare room’. Fast forward to ‘beyond I do’ and now we have a spare room, well, at least before the brood grows. I have come to love the idea and wondered where the ‘spare room’ has been all my life! That is the only place in the house that I allow myself and Hun to mess up, and even my ‘choleric/ melancholic’ self is not (so) bothered about it. What a joy to have that place that I can ‘post-pone’ stuff to and deal with them ‘later’ either since I do not have time currently or because I really can’t figure out what to do with it. The room still holds some of the stuff I moved with from Nairobi that am still not sure what to do with. Sometimes it is laden with Hun’s IT stock en route to or from the office! I especially love dumping clean laundry there before I sort it out or before ironing. Laundry that is left lying around, whether clean or dirty is a pet peeve to me. Previously I used to put away my laundry on the same day it was washed, even if I got home at midnight. I was completely unable to even leave it lying in the bedroom, as long as I was going to sleep there. I just cannot fall asleep knowing there is a stack of clothes in the room.


This got me thinking the other day of how I handle issues. I was one person who can pout from the moment I have been ‘wronged’ until when I feel that the issue has been addressed. Sometimes that can take days. As advised by a group of girlfriends, that is never any way to handle marriage. Recently I have learnt to utilize the concept of the ‘spare room’. I nowadays make a conscious effort to put off conflicts when discussions get too heated between Hun and I, or we do not seem to see eye to eye on an issue. After a few hours or days, usually the issue will come up again and this time Hun might see things my way and other times I would be the one who has changed perspective. Sometimes we realize it was non-issue in the first place. Other times yet, we have had to take it back to the ‘spare room’ and try the process all over again. While the issue is in the ‘spare room’ I try to go on with life as usual. This has made it easier to deal with issues. Of course I must also add that the benefit of putting matters in the spare room temporarily is that you also get to pray about it.

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