Today, I feel compelled to write about an experience I had during my first year of university. Thinking back about the incident it was kinda funny now but at that point of time it was scary.
Long time ago, I pursued my tertiary education at a university in another state. During our first year, outstation students were allocated with hostel accommodation. My hostel was an older hostel. Each room consisted of 3 beds… a single bed and a double decker bed.
The university administration assigned the roommates for each student. I was assigned with 2 roommates who were older than me. When I entered university I was 19 years old but my roommates were teachers who applied to pursue tertiary education.
Note: I have changed their names but the contents of the story is true. Please note that I am not trying to discredit any religion. In every religion there are fanatics who ended up giving the religion a bad name.
Gina, was 32 years old and a final year student. Erin was 30 years old and like me, was a first year student. So Gina slept on the single bed while Erin slept on the lower bunk. I, being the youngest slept on the upper bunk.
In our country teachers who studied in the Teacher’s Training college after their Form Five may apply to pursue a tertiary education to earn a degree. After graduation, they would be able to teach in secondary schools. Without a degree they can only teach in primary or elementary public schools.
While youngsters may complain about older roommates, it was the opposite for me. For I have been told by a close friend that I am a 80 year old woman trapped in the body of an 18 year old when I was younger. I like to associate with more mature people. From young I enjoyed following my mom and hanging out with her friends who often shared wise lessons and life experiences.
At that point, all three of us came from different states, with my hometown being the furthest. Not long before arriving to the university, Erin got to know a mature gentleman through newspaper who were in the same state (those days there are people who advertised in the classified to get to know a mate before the days of the online world). They started writing to each other, in pen pal style via snail mail and kinda hit it off. The guy would come each evening, calling Erin from downstairs and Erin would go out dinner with him. Those days we do not have mobile phones yet.
But this was during weekdays. On weekends when there were no classes, Erin would drive back to her hometown. In fact, Erin used to drive back home on Friday right after her class without stopping by at our room.
On the other hand, Gina was single. She was a president of one of the religious organization (the university allow students to form and join different religious organizations but must be registered and regulated by the university).
Both Erin and I are Buddhist. Whereas Gina was a former Buddhist and converted to another religion. There was when we saw some fanaticism as she turned her back totally against Buddhism and spoke some unpleasant things whereas glorifying her new religion.
At first, Gina tried to influence both of us to join her religion and attend the gatherings that they have. Both of us were not interested because we have our separate social activities (Erin was busy dating while I had a close group of friends who often hang out together).
But frankly, the main thing that stopped us was her behavior and attitude. Often I felt something was just off about her. She would be often smiling but behind the smile I often sensed something hostile and sinister.
For example, it was quite obvious to me that Gina was jealous of Erin for having a boyfriend. Even though she try to be friendly, but at times her guard would be down. Few times, she mentioned something unconsciously which further confirmed my suspicions when she made unpleasant offhand comment on Erin.
You see, both Erin and Gina were quite similar in age. They were both unmarried and hoping to find a good partner. But to Gina’s eyes, Erin had everything that she did not. Gina’s family was poor and Gina rode an old motorbike around campus and back to her hometown. Both of them being teachers were paid salaries but Gina had to support her siblings as she was the eldest in her family.
Whereas Erin came from an average family who need not worry about money and could afford to drive back to her hometown in another state each weekend. Erin also had a boyfriend who would come literally each evening calling to her like some kinda romeo almost each evening (our hostel was strictly a female hostel and no guys is allowed to enter).
Fortunately, Gina had nothing against me due to the age gap between us. Also because she knew I had some issues on my own and wasn’t exactly at my happiest. Once or twice when Gina was feeling down, she had expressed bitterness as to why her life was so bad and she tried to stay tough as she saw it as ‘tests’.
But no matter what, once we start comparing ourselves with others rather than to count our blessings, it would bring us nothing but misery…..
A number of times, I could see something very unpleasant in Gina’s eyes as Erin rushed out when her boyfriend came calling from the window downstairs (our room was at the first floor).
Still, I never discussed it with Erin since despite we were roommates, we seldom saw each other during waking hours.
Both Erin and myself would basically eat what we wanted to eat. I mean street food was not that expensive and were real tasty. Whereas Gina would try to save due to lack of money and bought mostly cheap food like rice with one dish. She would make some comments about ‘well both of you are lucky, can afford delicioud food. Look at me, I could only afford this small packet of nasi lemak’, etc making us feel guilty. But when we offer her she would decline.
Gina also had a lot of mood swings…. sometimes she would appear to be in a bad mood as she came into the room, and refused to speak to the both of us. Well, maybe she could be tired.
I kinda guess Gina must have some kinda of pressure because as the leader of the religious group, she had failed to ‘convert’ both her roommates to her faith or at least to get them to attend their events. What she did not realize is that her mannerism and behaviour really did not inspire us. Each of us had no say in the roommate as the university administration made the arrangement. We kinda accepted we were roommates but basically the three of us were not close as we have our separate social groups.
One weekend, Erin went back to her hometown. Gina tried to talk her religious stuff with me but I made it clear I was not interested. That night, I climbed into my upper deck bed and slept. Then I dreamt of Gina….I remember seeing her face with a totally pitch dark background. She was trying to say something to me which I did not understand.
When I woke up, I could still remember her face in my dream. I thought nothing of it and climbed down from my upper bunk. Imagine my surprise when she approached me as I was climbing down the bunk stairs and asked me eagerly, “Yin Teing, did you get the dream that I sent to you last night?”.
I stared at her for a few seconds. Then I was FURIOUS with her. Furious that she intruded my inner privacy by trying to enter my dream. So it was not so happened I dreamt of her but it was her deliberate doing.
Just what the heck was she trying to accomplish by doing that? Trying to cheesed me off? Already I have been putting up with her hypocrite behaviour and nonsensical talk and now THIS? This was too much.
I looked at her with anger, took my toiletries and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind. Didn’t I say I had a short fuse when I was young?
After that, I just refused to look or talk to her. I just ignored her as if she was invisible. She also did not talk or disturb me again and no more dreams about her.
Not long later when I had the chance alone with Erin, I told her about the incident and how cheesed off I felt. Only then did Erin told me how terrified she was of Gina. I asked Erin what was so terrifying? Did she sent you a dream?
Erin then told me that she could sense a lot of hostility that Gina had for her. It made her feel very uncomfortable to come back to the room so most of the time she was back in the room only if she wanted to come back to take a bathe and wait for her boyfriend to come. If not, she would be at the library or hang out with her group of friends.
At night, Erin find that she had problem sleeping when she was in the hostel. Probably because Erin was a light sleeper. And since their beds were the same level, she often saw Gina doing weird poses in bed, like making bird moving poses or fish swimming poses. Very weird and freaky.
Then Erin told me one night, she actually dreamt that she was on the floor and Gina pressed her down with her foot on her neck. The look on Gina’s eyes in the dream was pure evil. Erin was so terrified in the dream. By the weekend, she told her mom about it when she went back to hometown. Her mom brought her to see a medium who said that Gina had veered off the path and under the influence from the dark side. Erin was given some talisman to keep to protect herself.
I do agree with the medium that Gina had veered over to the dark side because in my dream of her, the background was pitch black instead of light or bright.
Erin also finally confessed that she had to make the drive back to her hometown each weekend just to escape Gina and get some restful sleep. Because during weekends there are less student activities so Gina tended to be around longer. She also said that after the dream (which happened around the same time as the dream I had of Gina as well), she tried even harder to avoid going back to the room as much as she can.
She said she did not wanted to tell me at first because she did not want to scare me. Also she thought that Gina was not hostile and had nothing against me.
Probably because that time I had problems of my own as well as pressure from studies so I did not bother much about Gina. I just stopped talking to her altogether.
By the end of my first year, Gina would complete her final year and go back to teaching. Both Erin and me opted to move out to rent at nearby places than to apply to stay in university hostels. Because in the university hostels, you can’t choose your roommates and frankly, the hostel is kinda old and from what other hostel mates shared, it was haunted. Erin decided to rent a room in a home through some recommendation. She said she preferred a single room to herself so that she can get restful sleep and a house compound where she could park her car. Whereas for me, I moved into an apartment with a few friends.
I still remember, Gina had completed all her finals before me and was in the process of moving out. My exams were not yet finished and I still had a paper or two to sit before it is over. So the last night as Gina was packing her things and moving out, I decided to speak to her nicely for one last time. By then it had been months and the hostility was not really there anymore. I was no angry since she seemed to have gotten the message and stuck to her own boundaries.
In the end, we parted amicably. We sincerely wish each other well. That was the last time we saw each other. I wish her all the best and hopefully she has found the happiness which she was looking for.
Erin on the hand, married the guy almost right after our final year and settled in with him in that state. When she came to my hometown the year after we graduated, we briefly met up. We have since lost contact.