Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Trust and Sweet Potatoes

A couple of days ago, alarming graffiti started appearing in our kitchen.
The likes of "Dirty Pole Bastard", "F***ing Jew", "Whore, "Dirty Welsh F***" and others I cannot bear to repeat, decorated the cupboards of the residents in my hall.

This prompted a flurry of investigation from the inept British police officers who seem more intent on keeping their shiny uniforms clean than doing any real investigation. Sensationalized school press only encouraged the vandalism.

The next day, unpreturbed by the extra lock placed on our kitchen door, more graffiti decorated the halls:

"R+L Will Burn in Hell"
"Die, die, die"

A hangman was drawn in the showers and cross eyed men stared out at us from the mirrors. One of my friends happened to be visiting this past weekend and nearly got smashed over the head with a broom when she went upstairs to make tea.

The worst part of this whole thing is that the vandalizer is someone who lives among us. He (or she) knows whose locker is whose (even though they don't have any identifying personal effects) and times the vandalism just right. I went in to the kitchen to put my sweet potato to bake at 4:30pm and at 5:00pm, the words had appeared on the cupboards.

Rumours started flying about who the "Midnight Scrawler" could be. I was convinced that it was the guy who lived across the hall from me. Someone else said it was the guy who lived next to me. You can be sure I locked my door at night!

Among the people accused was a 3rd year archaeology student. They all thought that he was so annoyed by the lack of interest the college had in the food theft that was going on in the kitchen that he decided to up the ante. Furthermore, he was the one who discovered the graffiti everytime fresh ones appeared.

The trouble was, if there was anyone I didn't want to suspect, it was him. He was from Bristol, a bit brash and proud, but otherwise very nice. I could tell that the other students were prejudiced against him because he was an outsider, not a first year student who was into clubbing like they were (a bit like me, really). They made snide remarks about his girlfriend just because she was shy. We always had interesting conversations in the kitchen and he would inform me of the complicated nature of British politics.

But as I thought about it more and more, it seemed possible that he was the guilty one. The handwriting certainly seemed similar and the logic made sense. Plus, he lived on the third floor and so would have a lot of opportunity to sneak out and decorate the kitchen. And I hated to admit it, but I could tell that he had a sense of humor that might find the ridiculousness of it all somewhat funny.

Apparently, the police thought the same thing because they questioned him rather harshly, asking him how his record would look to graduate schools if it had an arrest on it. He came into the kitchen in tears and I was shocked.

Yesterday, he came into the kitchen and gave me a bag of sweet potatoes, which he knows I eat like candy.

"I might not be coming back tomorrow," he said.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Well my advisor told me that anything more happens, I won't get any extensions on my final thesis. So he recommended that I move out."

I gave him a hug and said good-bye. I still didn't know whether or not this was his way of backing out of a situation that had gone out of control or whether he genuinely didn't feel safe here anymore. It doesn't matter. Sometimes, you just have to trust someone on their word.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew
2 chicken breasts
2 sweet potatoes
1 large onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
6 white button mushrooms, chopped
1 cup sweet peas
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper

To Cook:
1. Place chicken, mushrooms, onion, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a pot; stir to combine. Put the lid on and cook on medium for about an hour.
2. Add sweet potatoes and cook for another hour.
3. Add in sweet peas and cook until peas are done.

Serves 2.

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