A Confession

I have spent the day expecting to be struck down by a bolt of lightning, which has nothing to do with the cataclysmic thunderstorm unfolding above us and everything to do with the fact that last night, I think I did something really awful.

I have just rented a room from a lovely lady, for a very good rate in a part of town I was desperate to live in. I couldn’t be happier – especially when I discovered dozens of old books on my bookshelf, including a Pablo Neruda anthology and a Spanish translation of Pride and Prejudice, both of which will do far more for my waning efforts at fluency than grammar studies ever will.

My landlady is a grandmotherly age and keeps a spotless house, but I think we’re friends since she let me sit on the end of her huge bed and watch the Colombian X Factor on her plasma screen.

Similarly, the lad who rents the other room is a shy accountant who laughs at my jokes but is generally quiet as a mouse and therefore unlikely to disturb me when I am working.

There is just one potential cloud on this sunny horizon. My new landlady is devoted to the Catholic Church and even though I am definitely a fan of Jesus, I am not particularly fond of God.

Despite this, I’ve respectfully tucked away the prayer cards I found in my room and won’t be touching the portrait of the Virgin Mary, complete with rosary beads, which hangs on my wall.

When I opened the wardrobe to find a poster of Jesus I giggled and left him there, hoping he’ll sleep well at night surrounded by my party dresses and over-priced make-up.

My helpful boyfriend even told me a candle in the living room had been lit in my honour, both as a tribute to a minor Virgin and to ensure my lifelong happiness.

What could possibly go wrong?

Oh dear. I cannot believe I am about to admit to this.

It should have been a normal night. I went to the gym. I came home. I made myself a cup of tea, dug out some biscuits and sat in bed reading my book. Later, I cleaned my teeth and then, for some inexplicable reason, I decided I needed to wash my mug.

When I walked past the lounge, I saw a flickering light and realised with a cold shock of horror that the candle was still lit. Everyone was in bed which meant the responsibility for their lives – and those of everyone else in the apartment block – lay in my hands.

You know I’m a Health and Safety nut. You should also know I spent six years of my life writing about house fires, including the ones that killed people. You may or may not know that Colombians are so cavalier about fire safety, I’ve never even seen a home smoke alarm here, let alone fireproof stairs or a bloody ladder.

I stood there frozen. I thought about going back to bed but knew I would force myself to stay awake all night if we were to run the gauntlet of an alarm-less night beside an unattended candle.

And so, at the risk of forever ruining my own happiness, I blew the candle out. If you see me looking fed up and miserable, that’s why. I can’t speak for the Virgin.

Can I blame it on a rogue gust of wind? Every night?!
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4 Comments

  1. Prophet

    hahaha that brought memories to me … When i was looking for a room for rent in the same city you live my dear Vicky, i walked like 50 rooms, most of them in a terrible shape like “Rat holes”, there were only a few spaces with decent facilities and average furniture. Most of these places were rooms in shared apartments or family homes like the one you described. The rules were quite simple, no smoking, no parties and some allowed late night arrivals, but curiously all of the places belonged to women, some married with children, some old aged, some still living with their moms and some divorced with their teenage children, but all warned me: NO GIRLFRIENDS VISITS. that sentence had a hidden message: “NO SEX IN THIS SACRED PLACE” of course they wanted to avoid their teen age boys at night hearing 2 hours of girl – moaning and dirty sounds coming out the room, maybe they didn’t want their kids seeing girls in underwear going to the bathroom at midnight either. LOL yes dear Vicky COLOMBIA IS THE MOST CONSERVATIVE COUNTRY IN SOUTH AMERICA. Welcome to the catholic headquarters of los andes. Which make me guess, if this home where you live is sooo Catholic, Did your Landlady know you have a BF? I bet she doesn’t want some “little sinners” ( pequeños pecadores ) doin some “monkey business” in her sacred home and thats why she lid the candle for!! LOL

    1. bananaskinflipflops

      Ha, well, I did have some fun when I was looking too. Adverts that said “Christians preferred” and another that sounded lovely until the throwaway line at the bottom “no gays” (When I crossed it off the list my boyfriend looked at me very seriously and said “Homophobia is a sickness you know,” – needless to say it remained off the list) Most of the advertisements wanted women, specified that they wanted single women and specified that no guests would be allowed to stay – and these weren’t always family homes or homes with children. However, there were plenty of others that understood that even single women don’t stay single forever and, from what I’ve seen in Colombia, Catholicism – even among the most devout – can have a certain pick and choose element!

  2. Prophet

    At that time, I never saw those with the homophobic warning, that must be new stuff. I think chapinero aka chapigay, is the place preferred by LGBT people. the only gay friendly district in hueco-tá. Colombia as conservative kingdom as it gets. is very homophobic… very very very. Maybe you would prefer Argentina, less homophobic but according with your entry, more devil-style men hahahahaha XD

    BTW nice mountain pic, you look great!

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