The Special Roommate

In life, many people come and go. Some leave bad memories, some leave good ones, and then there are those who change your life completely. Those people are truly special.

It feels like yesterday when I first came to the United States with my father. I was only 18. I had found a small studio in New York and started sharing it with new roommates to help lower the costs. I have seen over three dozen people come and go in that little studio over a five years period, and to be honest, not all have left with good memories. I have to admit that after so much experience sharing a room with others, no two people are alike. When you try to have things your way, there will be conflicts. But above all others, I wish my father understood that.

Let me move on to the story of this special guy. It was February 11th, 2010 when Zubi moved in. Honestly, I use to get a little nervous when older guys move in to my studio, and this man was in his late 50’s. I still remember telling my friend, who was visiting me from Australia for a week, that I had a weird feeling about this new fella. My friend comforted me by saying, “Cheers, mate”.

He always used to say he owned a restaurant but he couldn’t cook anything. I knew he wasn’t being completely honest about it but of course I didn’t say that to his face. I was really a bad cook myself then, but, once in a while, I used to give it a shot. One day, I decided to make a Chinese veggie soup and I liked it quite a bit. When my roommate, Zubi, tried it, he said:

“My friend, for sure I haven’t tasted anything this bad, before,” and he promised me that he would teach me how to cook. The next day he asked me to buy some groceries. I obliged and he agreed to cook for few days, on the sole agreement that I watch him. Once things started to make sense, we switched roles. He used to supervise me, while I used to act like a captain of his ship, cruising through ocean tides. I was a mess without guidance. What I wasn’t able to cook in five years experimenting on my own, he taught me in five weeks. Every day I would wake up and try a different dish. Some used to be exceptionally delicious and some were not so good. This continued until he made me a master of all the dishes he knew.

Then, suddenly, after five months, he had to leave for California to be with his brother and he left for good. Three weeks later I received a call from his brother. He said my friend Zubi had a heart attack and he went into coma. I was upset and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even have money to fly out to see him, so I prayed for him. He laid in the hospital for several weeks without speaking or moving. In the end, I felt the weight of the brevity of life.

Zubi moved me and my life in many ways. I hoped and prayed that his health would return so he could be well enough to teach me one more dish. But then the news came, he was gone. He was definitely one special roommate.