When we went to Sri Lanka earlier this year, I told my mum, towards the end of the trip, that I had ranked each hotel’s bathroom according to comfort and convenience. Don’t think me weird, but as someone with IBS who has spent most of her time in the bathroom, these thoughts just occur naturally. When we moved house, one of my most random worries was if the bathrooms in the new house would be IBS friendly. The last thing you want is to be uncomfortable when you’re already uncomfortable (they are comfortable, though a bit dangerous because they’re small).
I miss the toilet at home, well only one to be honest. The other toilet was really just a waste of space… in fact I wonder if we shouldn’t have turned it into a storeroom. It was pretty useless by toilet standards, cramped and never flushed properly which made it a constant source of arguments at home. It also eternally smelled of the neighbour’s cooking. The neighbour, unfortunately, seemed rather attached to cabbage which made us rather detached from the prospect of having to use that toilet. It was, I will admit, a handy backup – a “just-in-case” toilet which only my dad frequented. There was another thing that was strange about this toilet. The top most tile on the wall behind the door, if you looked carefully enough, resembled a rather dignified and thin old man with a monocle. This man-in-a-tile, I fondly called Alfred because he rather looked like Alfred from the Batman cartoons, except he was wearing a monocle. I miss Alfred. If I had any artistic skill, I would have sketched him out just so I don’t forget.
The toilet I do miss, the bathroom in fact, was pretty big all things considered which is good because it never felt stuffy, but bad considering the distance to the door in the event of an IBS attack. I don’t miss people being locked in when the lock didn’t work. I don’t miss the childhood water outages, when we’d try to fill up buckets with water. I do miss the random and rare post-it notes on the mirror asking for a wake up call. I miss the pinkish-beige bathtub with its seashell shaped non-slip treads, where my brother and I would play. It’s the same bathtub mum would bathe me in to the sounds of me crying thanks to the shampoo which would never fail to burn my eyes. I miss the laundry basket in the bathroom, eventually relegated to the smaller toilet, which was always blessed with an abundance of dirty clothes. I miss the water heater which, like the kitchen light, was hardly ever turned off, to make sure there was nice warm water on cold winter mornings and warm water for summer baths. I don’t miss the arguments with my brother on why all the warm water was used up after a bath, though. Here’s hoping those arguments don’t follow us here, though I have a sneaking suspicion they will… there’s no such thing as too much hot water even in a desert like the UAE. This bathroom has also seen some of the most painful moments of life. It was the place of refuge, where tears of heartbreak were shed by 11 year old me, during the miserable performance that was the 1999 World Cup Final. Could there have been a worse moment than that… well there was, but that’s a story for another time.