Some people like the smell of coffee brewing in the morning. Some enjoy the smell of dew on freshly cut grass, I like the smell of a clean bathroom. Sounds odd, but it is true. I not only like it, but it might also have saved my life.
As the pandemic swept through our lives In 2020, and we were all forced to confront ourselves, with no escape route from our family I started to buckle under the reality of my life.
I live in a small self-contained apartment in Ogba. Next to my apartment building is a mosque with a loud blaring speaker. Across from my room is a street that buzzes with every kind of seller hawking their wares into late hours of the night.
On the opposite side of the road is a very busy pepper grinder that adds to my daily misery. My already small room suddenly felt cramped and inescapable. It seemed like the world had suddenly stormed into my room and was making a whole lot of noise.
Before the lockdown, I had only spent a few hours in my room. And that was to sleep for a few hours. I was out the door by 6 am to beat the traffic. I didn’t know my neighbours and they didn’t know me.
Imagine the rude shock when I was all of a sudden assailed by all these interruptions from morning till night.
I had to find a way to remain sane and continue working through all this. I had to sign into my many Zoom meetings knowing full well I was going to be accompanied by a rooster.
I found solace in the most unusual place.
My bathroom became a small slice of quiet heaven for me. I stood under the shower on the days I didn’t want to feel tears pouring down my eyes from frustration.
It was cathartic to scrub down my bathroom walls, get on all fours and use a toothbrush to attack the corners of the wall. It felt like I was getting revenge on all my issues as I used Dettol and other cleaning agents to disinfect every square inch of the space, while blaring loud music through my headset.
This was my therapy. At the end of this hard labour, having properly exerted myself and my room was oozing off the sharp sweet smell from Dettol, I felt better.
I couldn’t wrangle the stupid rooster’s neck. I couldn’t steal the noisy pepper grinder in the dead of the night. I couldn’t hide the mosque’s speaker either. But I could clean my room, and scrub my bathroom.
Even though there is chaos outside the four walls of my room and a world I cannot control, I can go into my room and breathe in that clean, fresh, sanitized smell from my bathroom and feel better. I can create my own sanctuary in this small space, away from the world.
Clean your room today, scrub down your bathroom,disinfect away your anxiety with Dettol. It’s a cheap therapy session.
Darasimi Olarewaju is a Lagos based writer that explores stories about human nature and interaction.