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THE TALE OF THE FRUSTRATED CLEANERS

-By: Sonnet

With her Igbo worship songs playing, you find Mama Chinedu enthusiastically sweeping as she goes about her job, with a swift broom in hand, a dust pan held firmly in the other behind her back, a long brush waiting patiently by the end of the floor and other cleaning agents standing straight close to the toilets and bathrooms. “Swisff .. Swisff..Swisdff ..swisff” – she goes along the corridor on A block ground floor after which she pushes the reluctant overflowing dirt back into its place – that is, the uncovered big plastic bowls on the floor.

As early as seven a.m., her sonorous voice would fill the floor as she multitasks between fetching water and mopping the floor. The relentless woman who knows her job may not sit until around 10 a.m. or 11 a.m, after which she must have mopped all mess, defined in urine and bathwater excesses.

Mama ‘beji is another specialist in this sweeping and mopping business. 10 years is definitely no joke of dexterity test. Tidying up her floor on B block every morning, gives her more satisfaction even more than being a supervisors to the cleaners. However, around 7:50 a.m on a Tuesday morning, her voice resounded through the floor as she was almost done cleaning, only to discover upon opening a toilet that the content had not been flushed.

I am supposed to wash your toilets, not your ‘poo… you girls are adults and no longer kids”, she lamented in Yoruba, further describing how the watery poo of the culprit had decorated the toilet bowl with brown stains and had inspired some maggoty activities down the center of the waste. Perhaps, the culprit has never been used to using a “flush toilet” from home – one might wonder.

In the above situation, is it not only fair that the cleaner does her job as she is employed to do and simply gets the room occupants to deal with their own ‘doody’ or that she reports them to the appropriate authority?

Well for Mama ‘beji, her first natural and moral resolution would be to correct the culprit herself as she believes in making people take responsibility for their facilities.

Riding on  the lane of a five-year service memory, Mama Aisha recounts how she cleans the whole of flat, bottom-up, describing how some defaulters on the floor still pass urine in bathrooms which have been blocked for some time now. The sinks meant for washing and rinsing or plates have suddenly turned “waste bowl” for some residents who block the passage of water, as they force peels of beans,  potato, yam , egg shell, onion pieces, fish intestines and nylons down the gullets of these sinks. Sooner, the sinks are blocked and they resort to creating another problem by pouring water (usually filled with dirt) off their balconies; at times, showering an unlucky surrounding cleaner or a rather-too-relaxed gardener at the same time.

Again, the account of how some Idiaites find it difficult to flush after passing out waste is lined with an ink of shame and embarrassment. “There is nothing more I can do than ask them to come and clean their poo; I can’t report them because of the innocent ones, and I also have children”, she added.

B-Block extension has been at the fore-front of this messy account this semester as the Cleaner that manages the floor reportedly stated that she would resign and look for another job; since some residents have continued to improvise the kitchenette as toilets, to past out their waste.

In a particular dustbin on the floor was found a black nylon where a sizeable weight of poo was deposited. Same was replicated in the far-end kitchenette. One might again question if the hall management has not made a mistake in accommodating some “unnice” beings as residents.

But-hey, hang on, maybe another conclusion would be made when it is known that over fifty girls on that floor are provided with just two available toilets to share. And again, being the top-most floor on the block; fetching water from C-block tap side or even B block (in cases where the taps shut down), could be extremely stressful for them. After all, water rarely flows in their toilets and bathroom. But then, is water problem not a recurring issue on many floors in the hall? Haven’t other Idiaites been coping well enough? Or do we solve problems by causing more problems on our hands? God forbid!

Even C block is not all righteous in this matter. A number of times, C blockites are reportedly praised as experts at flushing ‘shit’ down their bathroom throats.

“Some would even try flushing pads and papers down the waste tunnel!” – exclaimed, a C-block cleaner in her toned Yoruba dialect.

One of these days, a slim but steady Surrounding Cleaner reported fell off the phlegm which some residents threw over their balconies to the veranda outside. She reportedly hit her knees on the floor while she diligently sought to keep the environment clean as she is employed to do.

Had it been that she had hit her head that morning; there is a possibility of losing her to the realm of unconsciousness.

Indeed, the frustration which some Idiaites make the cleaners witness from Sunday to Saturday is in no way praiseworthy of the stipend which they receive as salaries.

 

At the end, one might conclude – is it not their job? To mop and lick all mess including the drops of menstruation blood and urine and bathwater overflows. It is noteworthy at this point to state that this tale is not a piece to put Idiaites to disrepute but aimed at exposing and correcting the ills of the unlearned ones among this Sheepfold.

Everyone’s got some dirty secrets to dispose of their bodies, however secrets will only be kept secret if properly managed. 

 

WAY FORWARD

Many of the cleaners have been exceptional about their duties despite the abuse of facilities by some Idiaties.  It is time Idiaites become the brother’s keeper of one another on the use of rest rooms as a high maintenance culture need to be cultivated by residents.

Although, issues still arise from the bad state of some toilets and bathrooms – that is however no justification for making life difficult for others or putting the lives of the cleaners at risk.

This piece is also a call to the hall management to continue in their activities of refurbishing and restoration (such as fixing light in the bathrooms and toilets) in order to promote a sound comfortability living among residents.

Finally, a continuous campaign should be embarked on in the hall about the appropriate use and maintenance of the flush toilets and other facilities in the hall – most especially for fresh men in order to have a safe, clean and healthy Queen Idia hall.

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