Using the bathroom : a public affair?

by Madhulika Narasimhan

Deeply perturbed by my daily ritual of running to the bathroom as soon as I step inside my house, my mother finally asked me one day why I could not just go to the bathroom before leaving College so I wouldn’t have to wait the one hour that it takes me to get home. With an irritated look I told her, “We do not have a bathroom”, and rushed inside the toilet, banging the door behind me.

Well that was not the complete truth.  Technically, there is a rest room. Inside the Library. Had I told my mother that, her religiosity would have taken over her, only to hurl abuses at the appalling idea of having an immensely impure space within a room as sacred as the library, where Goddess Saraswati herself resides. Well, I refuse to pay heed to these ‘irrational’ beliefs. But despite that, I do have a problem with it and vehemently oppose using the toilet situated inside a library.  And I do have my reasons for it.

The other day I walked into the library quite confidently, only to be stopped half way by a friend from another department.

“Hey, are you coming here for the first time? The Sociology section is on the other side.”

“Uh. Umm. No, I know that. I am actually here to use the washroom.”

On reaching the bathroom, I started opening the door. Nothing. I tried harder, remembering my friend warning me how the door does not easily open, and reminding myself to gain some strength, physically as well as mentally! After a few mini wars with the door (I did try my best to maintain the quiet of the place) using my hands, my elbow and my shoulder, encouraging myself further, I gathered all the strength I could and kicked the door. Just as I held back my scream and almost convinced myself I had a fracture, the person at the adjacent table who had been reading (which I seriously doubt) told me that someone was using the bathroom. Feeling as if ten people had just slapped me and walked by in front of a million jeering people, I smiled with utmost embarrassment and fled the place, vowing never to return.

But fighting battles with the bathroom door or queuing up to pee is not really the only concern. Students who really have to concentrate to make sense of what they are reading do not want to hear the flush after every five minutes. Also, it is dreadful to even think about the day one of the women will have to use the bathroom during menstruation. Imagine carrying the essential sanitary napkin (mostly bright and noticeable :-/) across the library, past the visibly bored readers waiting for distractions! It actually gives me the screaming habdabs!

Well I can only hope and pray that there will soon be a bathroom that can be used and would not entail walking past a dead quiet room and the entire population knowing when and for how long you need to pee. Until then, please excuse me while I go use the bathroom so long as I can enjoy the privacy of my home where I need not be worried if somebody was keeping track of my trips to the toilet!

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