Mess dweller and drum sticks

8.32 in the morning; I don’t know what woke me up. The alarm or the sudden wave of panic that I am late to class. I shuffle around in bed to find my phone and quickly join the 8.30 am online class.

Thank God the instructor hasn’t started yet. Why do I care, though? I am not gonna follow the class anyway. I get a whiff of my room. Smells like stale orange peels and tea bags. My head feels heavy from the lack of sleep, oxygen and light.

The class lecture sounds like white noise and headache as I walk over the counter to find something to shove into my throat for energy. I always thought senior year burnout was over-dramatized. The sweatshirt, sweatpants, ramen stain combo. I thought that they only existed in the movies. Boy, was I wrong. Any food is engulfable if you’re hungry enough. Just need minimal activation energy to prepare it.

When you’re living on your own, and the tinge of burnout blocks every single one of your actions, you start wishing you had one support. Food. When you have 5 assignments due, and for every single one you turn in, two new ones get posted. I don’t know what ‘head of hydra’ bullshit this is. Physics nerds would call it a positive divergence or some crap.

It’s not a good feeling when email notifications give you a tiny aneurysm every single time.

Still, the food. When you’re hungry enough to bite through a block of raw noodles and snort the seasoning, the yellings of your instructor from the back are no bloody picnic. Whatever you cough out, cigarette smoke, Covid droplets, audible sighs, the empty wallet and tiredness phase them all away.

Mess dweller and drum sticks
Illustration by Anika Tabassum.

It’s been so long since I’ve had home food. Some good comfort food with no pressure on my mind. On one end, it feels good to overwork yourself to feel like you’re actually doing something with your life, but the catch is that you do that at the expense of your life itself. Why do I get annoyed about the battery running out of my electronics or the fact that I have to scrunch down to refill my electric kettle for tea? Will a fulfilling meal from mum wash this all away? So many confusing emotions, but one certainty is no amount of gourmet food can provide the comfort of home and peace.

It’s always plentiful there. I always get a leg piece for myself, plus something extra. I almost would prefer this over straight A’s. Somehow the day has gone by with me stuck to my bed, sometimes coughing, sometimes gasping for breath, sometimes jolting awake from a call from a friend saying the group task is due very soon. It’s nighttime, and the mess meal for the night is chicken. I am hoping for just another dry piece of meat that I can slap onto my plate of rice and overly spicy veggies, gulp them down and fall asleep with bad acid reflux.

A guy once asked, is the food in your mess good? I just said, when you’re hungry, you can eat it. So I guess it’s edible. As I open the box, I see a big chicken leg piece and an extra wing, potatoes, and little bits of cilantro floating.

Certainly, the teardrop that fell right onto my plate slightly over seasoned my meal for the night.


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Contributors

  • Self-proclaimed productivity God with severe anxiety, currently studying at CSEDU.

  • Anika Tabassum, trying to pursue a career in the scientific field, likes to do fantastical illustrations and try new creative things from time to time. Her love for art was heavily inspired by games, manga, animated movies and series.

Abdul Mohaimen Al Radi

Self-proclaimed productivity God with severe anxiety, currently studying at CSEDU.

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