Starting Over Again

Setting up a home from scratch is not an easy feat, and I should know because I have done it before in November 2005.  Back then I had a car, the support of my friend Jackie, and the distant support of my then husband, who wanted me to succeed so that I can provide him with an escape from the drudgery of working a petrol station – I did not know this at the time but back reflection tells me now this was the case.

Today I am traveling the same road with a greater level of difficulty. Now I have a small toddler, no car, a precarious relationship with Jackie and little or no support from my ex, who for some reason resents me, when it should be me who hates his very existence.  I am very aware of the difficulty of my situation, and that is why I try not to arouse antagonistic feelings from my ex or Jackie, and although I know that in the end I will not bend to the unreasonable requirements of either of them I try to avoid confrontation until such a time when I am not so needy of help.

So that is why today I called on both my ex and Jackie. Late last night I discovered that I forgot the keyboard of my computer as well as my desk lamp in the boot of Jackie’s car, so I had to call and ask her if she can get them for me. I also asked her to get me some of the kitty litter because I still haven’t set up Petey’s toilet and I was so afraid that he will start using any convenient cluttered corner, especially since it is still pouring outside.

Jackie promised to get them for me during the afternoon, because she was out for the day.  The matter with the kitty litter was most pressing, and since I failed to get a prompt response from Jackie I had to get Mr. Negativity to help and asked him to buy me a bag.  Soon he came with the smallest package possible, but what can I expect from a man who actually made me pay for the cat food for as long as he kept Petey. I even paid him back the R10 this package cost.

During the remainder of this day I tried to put the place in some semblance of order.  I put together Robert’s crib, and organized the boxes in one corner. Later I went to the shops and started populating the fridge.  The stuff that Jackie gave me went all into the garbage,  that was a final insult from her thinking that I would eat cottage cheese that had gone off. But it seems that whenever one looses something, one gets another helping hand. Lucy came to me today and helped me out a little bit, she even stayed with Robert while I went shopping and as luck would have it I ran into her daughter at one of the shops and she gave me a lift back and this enabled me to buy a little oven / cooking hub unit which would have been too heavy for me to cart back.

I am going to start working tomorrow. I have not written about this before but I am working more afternoon shifts during August and September to bring down the minus hours I accumulated since returning to work last March.  Lucy will continue to help me out on her free afternoons. My fears about losing Lucy proved groundless as she did not allow Mrs L to intimidate her, and as we expected Mrs. L could not put her money where he mouth is.  But little changes the fact that these people expected me to stay there for a year,  and felt utterly betrayed by the fact that I was not prepared to lie down and let them take advantage of me. One of the bitter things Jackie told me during our fight, was that if I could not afford her place (Buckingham Palace that it is) – I should have sued my ex for better settlement, so there you have the logic of the greedy.  And I thought that I would be fighting to get a better settlement for my son, not to pad the pockets of Mrs. L and her daughter, but please that is just my stupid presumptuous reasoning.

I haven’t moved into a great place. Last night Robert and I slept on a lumpy hard futon, and today I feel bruised all over, but no matter what hell hole I live in,  at least it is mine and I do not have to live according to other people’s  rules. I have done enough of that over the past years, I am going to enjoy my freedome at last.

Moving under the Storm

I have been packing my things slowly, obtaining boxes from work and cramming my things in them. The bulk of my things are books, and they fit very well in the A4 paper boxes.

On the 28th I got the key to the new place and in theory I could have moved in right then but I needed help and I already established from Khayyam that he was only available on the weekend. Initially we arranged for Sunday morning but the plans were changed to Saturday right after I finish work.

I picked up the rainiest weekend of the year to move, there was a steady downpour all morning and things did not look like they would be improving the next day and that what made me and Khayyam decide to get the matter over with as soon as possible. He picked me up from work and then we went to Ron’s place (which used to be my place too) and picked up some pieces of furniture that belonged to me – stuff that he couldn’t deny, wrangle out of, or dispute.  I asked him for a duvet cover – I know he has two- and he obliged by giving me one, better than nothing in this cold.

Khayyam tied everything down in an old pick up truck (bakkie). As my luck would have it he had an accident a few days back with his new bakkie, so we had to deal with the old creaky one, perhaps just as good given the ramshackle stuff we were transporting. The next stop was at Jackie’s place where we picked up a few things. Lucy was there today so she packed up the rest of my things in bags and so on,  and cleaned up our room completely.  Jackie was also there and helped pack out all my food things. As a final gesture she cleaned up her fridge and packed for me some stuff that she would not eat – most of it was only fit for the garbage can, a gesture reminiscent of my ex’s generosity.
Sometimes I used to tell Jackie half jokingly that she had more in common with my ex than she cared to know,  I was not aware how inspired the comment was until today.

Next the pick up truck was loaded with boxes and boxes of books and we made a run for it to the new place.  It was great to have Khayyam’s big shoulder to carry these heavy boxes.  We ran up and down the steps under a drizzle that soon turned to torrential rain. Soon the effect was compounded with overflowing gutters, water was pouring over us, but we managed to get things in safely.

After a little rest we hurried back for the second -and last- trip. By then the door to the flatlet had swollen from the rain and we had to use a rock to hold it shut.  We filled up the last truckload of stuff and proceeded to unload it at the flat in a similar fashion then Khayyam returned me to Jackie’s place. I asked Jackie to take me, Robert, and the computer in the last trip.  I thought this would be one of the last times that Robert will sit in his baby chair, he has outgrown it almost. Jackie also found a bag and packed Petey in it, so that we take him along.

Before we left Jackie’s place for the last time, Jackie told me that she paid the utilities and the phone, and according to her reckoning I owed her R400. I managed to wrangle out of paying by saying that I had to pay everything I had on me to Khayyam and did not have money. She did not like it but did not want to push it.  It was nighttime by the time I climbed up the steps to our new place with Robert. I had to run up and down four times transporting Petey, the components of my computer and my reading lamp.

I was dead beat after all that and lay next to Robert on the old futon, part of the furniture that was already in the unit. We made it, we have our own place everything else can be solved tomorrow.

ONE !!!

My dear little boy, today you turned one, and your mother wishes that she could have offered you better conditions to celebrate. But we were still very lucky the way your birthday turned out.

Some of the presents
Some of the presents

Most of your presents came from mom and auntie Britt, who bought you a whole bunch of clothes which will come in handy for summer.  Auntie Britt was so nice she treated you (and me) to a double celebration. First inviting us for breakfast at the Aquarium then later for dinner and a birthday party at her place.  The lesser contributors were unfortunately your father, who came along with a present that was a little too advanced for your age ( the mobile garage with keys).  Your father has a hard time with presents and cards, he cannot relate to a young child, because he has little contact to your half brother and sister, so don’t take it personally if you cannot make a decent father out of him.  From your family in Canada, only your auntie sent you a card, it is the one with Elmo on it.  Oma and Opa in Germany remembered your birthday, but I am afraid that your other granny ignored us, perhaps she and her eldest daughter did not want to appear to kind to me. Today taught me however that it doesn’t take an army of friends to make one happy, just a few really good ones would do, and I am eternally grateful for the few real friends that I still have, especially Britt.

dsc00221We had a great time at breakfast and you had your playtime in the play area. Later during the day your father came and “spent some time” with you and brought you your present. He also brought along a chair he no longer needs. Earlier he told me he was discarding some furniture from the holiday rental apartment and asked me whether I needed it.  He said he would give me the small desk from the and the two dining chairs.  Ironically he still kept all of the things he gave me and some of the furniture that was originally mine. I get to keep his rejects, but that is the nature of the beast, and beggars can’t be choosers.

dsc00231Auntie Jackie still speaks and plays with you, but my relationship with her turned real frosty since our fight. I am keeping my cards to my chest and not telling her any of my plans. Not even that I asked her / our friend Khayam to help me move on the last day of this month. So it was really great for us to have an opportunity to celebrate away from her. During the afternoon we went together and bought party stuff, and I got some cup cakes for the kids then Britt came and took us to her place.

rimg0762You would not remember, but you had quite a ball. You had your ONE candle and you dug into your own cup cake.

rimg0772Later you even shared a bath with two beautiful girls, so you cannot tell me you weren’t treated as a king. While you were having a bath you had a phone call from your nanny Lucy, and her daughter Sophie, they all wished you happy birthday. Sophie’s son Tando even sang you Happy Birthday in English and Zulu. The phone call made you mom very happy too.


rimg0769Happy Birthday Robert. You are my sunshine and the best part of my life.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Lucy tells me that when a baby bends with his head towards the ground and starts looking between his legs, it means that there is news or a surprise on the way. Yesterday, I got the surprise; an overdue increase in my salary. I was speechless when I saw the note, because I have been working for this company for almost three years without a single increase on my basic salary. Furthermore, I was plagued since my return from Maternity Leave with a heavy monthly deduction, which management applied to recover what they paid me by mistake while I was meant to be on unpaid leave; these deductions will continue until the end of next year. In addition, I have a long road ahead to make up my short working hours this year, work back the leave days I owe the company from last year, and recover certification that lapsed while I was away from work. In short I was given a tough mountain to climb with very few rewards. But now I see that someone, somewhere was listening to my silent prayer, I was given a much needed and appreciated break. The increase will help pay for Robert’s creche in the next few months.

Things are slowly falling into place. Next weekend we will move to our own place, and I hope that by then the sale of the house in the Eastern Cape will also be finalized. The lump sum we will receive from the sale will give us a small income and help us buy the things we need for our new place. I am very excited. One more exciting event in the last few days is Robert’s first few independent steps. He wants to practice walking and gets very excited to walk towards me or Lucy. I am grateful for Lucy’s support and kindness. We have grown very close since my argument with Jackie last Sunday. I shared the news of my raise with her, not with Jackie. I have become wary of discussing money with Jackie, and in all honesty I am afraid of another calculating reaction from her if she knew my financial situation is going to improve. I trust Lucy on the other hand to be happy for me, and I draw a lot of courage from her. In her time she faced hardships as a single mom, and ended up raising fine children without the support of a man. She is still the rock of her extended family supporting her surviving children, and their children. And then she has the babies and toddlers she looks after, as a paid nanny/babysitter. What is amazing about her though, is that she really loves these babies, and doesn’t consider caring for them as only a job, she actually enjoys being around them. Robert is lucky to have a loving and caring African grandma. She calls him “mama wau” – in her halting English she translated it as someone she loves from her innermost heart. I believe she does, because Robert’s eyes light up when he sees her, something that rarely happens at the sight of his father.

Thoughts on Fate and Parenting

Two stories made headlines this week, one is the horrific crash of Spanair JK5022 from Madrid Barachas to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. The other was the alleged ‘satanic’ killing of a 16-year pupil in a Krugersdorp school. Both incidents came up today during our play group class.

Aviation tragedies were always a source of horror for me. I am a nervous flier at the best of times, and working as a Weight-and-Balance agent for a major European airliner made the admiration and dread of this mode of transport even greater. When you work with these machines you realize that they have tremendous tolerance to human and material faults. The news stories say that the Spanair MD-82 jet had a technical issue with some temperature gauge, which brought it back from a takeoff attempt, yet this fault by itself is not enough to bring the airliner down. Seasoned pilots say that a complete failure of one engine cannot by itself bring the aircraft down, and there are measures to deal with engine fire during takeoff. However, something did happen on that aircraft and the scary thought is that while a major fault like an engine failure cannot by itself cause a crash, sometimes a combination of many minor technical faults and errors do lead to tragedy. 153 people died in the inferno of the doomed plane, among them two infants, and only 19 survived, three of the survivors were children.

There are heart-wrenching survivor stories. A fireman speaks of a boy who thought he was in a movie, and wanted the filming to be over so that he can be with his dad. There was an injured mother who asked rescue workers to pull out her 11-year daughter first. The mother did not make it to the hospital, but the daughter survived along with her father. There was a woman who walked out of the crash and phoned her brother from a fireman’s cell phone; she escaped unscathed from hell. When tragedy hits, who dies and who survives ? there is no logic or mathematics to the outcome. Fate, in this case is the most convincing and comforting answer. It spares people the grief of searching for impossible answers. People who believe tend to accept such calamity. If your loved one died in the crash it is a source of comfort to be able to accept that it was perhaps their time to go. And if you were one of the survivors, the knowledge that “it simply wasn’t your time” is a sufficient explanation and an absolution from guilt towards those who weren’t as lucky. Faith is a great comfort, and it is worth nurturing, even in these jaded and pragmatic times.

Faith is perhaps what will eventually help the parents involved in the South African school killing tragedy. An 18-year-old boy arrived to school on Monday with a samurai sword, which he used to kill another young boy of 16 during school assembly. The perpetrator went on to injure three other people. The killing embodies the nightmare of mothers all over the world. How do you protect your child from evil ? and if you can protect them and prevent them from wielding the sword, will you ever be able to prevent them from getting slain by it?
The discussion went on between the mothers in my moms and tots class, it is not always easy to understand what is going on in the minds of young people. The parents of the alleged attacker came out and spoke about his psychological problems, that he listened to darker heavy-metal music and became involved in Satanism. There were debates on the radio on who is to blame for this tragedy; is it the parents ? the music ? the internet with its unbarred access to all types of information, cults and quirks ? Can parents really stop a child with psychological problems from turning into a psychopath ?

There are no easy answers. The world has become a very small village, and if you want to protect your child from what you consider to be negative influences you have to keep them locked at home, away from television, internet, school and even next door neighbors; it is an impossible task. Mothers of older children in my play group complained about their children’s obsession with collecting monster figures and wondered whether the appreciation of such grotesque toys would twist their sensibilities and judgement. I can think back to many different fads that came and went. A decade ago there were the Tazos, and when we were young there were also pictures of monsters and silly cartoons that we collected from the boxes of cream cheese, or in the wrappers of bubble gum. Most of the cartoons and pictures did not make sense, but the thrill was the collection in itself, and there will always be something like that to catch children’s attention. My parents did not encourage obsession with these silly collections, but they tolerated it, and in time the novelty wore off and died, and we moved on to the next fad. I think I will do the same thing with my own child.

It is however important to keep a finger on the pulse, and be involved in your child’s interests, if possible. As long as these interests are aired out and expressed in the open, they do not get the chance to turn into spores of evil. A parent has also to strike a balance between firm prohibition and gentle disapproval. Limiting the former to acts and behavior that are truly against healthy moral judgement. I would like to think that when the time comes I would be able to perform such a role in my son’s life, but it is a long process, and I have to earn my credibility as a mother with the passage of time. One day my son’s behavior will be the ultimate measure of my success- or failure. Unless we prescribe to the argument that nature rules over nurture, but that is a subject for another day.

Another Irrevocable Breakup?

The hardest days for me to work are the Sundays, because these are the days I leave my child into the reluctant care of his father, and today was an extra bad one in terms of work pressure.  As I was nearing home my heart sank further when I saw the car of Jackie’s “boyfriend” parked in front of the house. I simply despise the man; I find him vulgar, impolite and simply stupid.  On one occasion, not even my closed door hindered his imposition, and unfortunately whenever I tell him directly what I think of him, he laughs it off as an attempt to hide my weakness to his physical charm, or should I say his impressive physical attribute which he never ceases to speak about.  I was not looking forward to an evening of listening to his vulgarity, which somehow amuses Jackie.

There was more crap waiting for me behind that closed door, however, but mercifully I did not know that, and when my cell phone rang I took the call just outside the house. I remember looking at the afternoon sky when the real estate agent told me breathlessly that she sold our house in Gonubie. My heavy heart began lifting a little when I asked her for the details. She told me that she brought me the price I was aiming for after her commission, and promised to fax me the offer to sign early on Monday.

I did not get to tell Jackie my good news because when I entered the house she met me with that silly “boyfriend” in tow, there was also another friend of hers present. I saw her smile while she told me that Petey had left a present on my bed, and indeed the room smelled of it. I was just too angry to speak for a few minutes as I raced to peal off the sheets of my soiled bed, and tried to clean up the mess and the smell before my son arrived.  In one moment I knew that I had enough, I have had Petey for three years, and not once had he done this, not even while he was crippled from his fall out of my third floor window.  I just knew that he only did it this time because he was locked in the room, and was not used yet to getting out of the window. As I snatched the dirty sheets, and steeled by the knowledge that my days of penury are almost over, I blurted it out: Look, it is not because of this, but I cannot stay here anymore. I am moving out in two weeks, when she asked me what I meant I told her I am moving out and that she should put that in her pipe and smoke it. Jackie took this very hard and hurled accusations at me, attacking my integrity and implying that I deserved what my ex did to me because I lacked decency. It was not composure or good manners that kept me silent, it was just shock, she went on and on about notices, contracts and money for electricity that I “owed” her.  What about paying these? she said, I just answered we will see, and kept on topping my avocado toast. I marvel now at how cool I remained, but I simply had no recourse against her poisonous tirade.

In the middle of all that my ex dropped off my son,  so we took a break from the fighting, but then I heard Jackie speaking to her mother on the phone and I asked to speak to her after she finishes, because she was my landlady like my dear friend Jackie pointed out. I wish I could say that the mother was harsher on me than the daughter, but it is not true, we only get hurt from those we care about.  Mrs L pretended that she did not know the story, so I told her that I found another place and will be leaving in two weeks.  I was more or less prepared to her line of argument: The contract I signed (the piece of paper I insisted to have in order to apply for my own phone line coming back to bite me), and how supportive they all were of me, etc. The only thing that unsettled me was my landlady’s claim that she gave me her maid Lucy.  She said that Lucy will no longer be allowed to look after Robert, and this was something I was not prepared to think about since Lucy’s help was central to my ability to show up at work.  I was shaken, but I managed to keep a clear mind. I went immediately after this conversation -while Jackie was busy in her room with her friends- and fished out the “contract”. My copy was the only copy available, and I could not trust keeping it in the house, so I just shredded it to pieces and flushed it down the toilet.

Soon after this I took Robert out and walked with him to get the anger out of my system. But before I left I called Lucy and asked her to meet me opposite her daughter’s place. Lucy has been good to me always, I told her everything, and she calmed me down and told me not to worry. She said that Jackie’s mother cannot prevent her from working  in her own time in the afternoon, and if she insisted on preventing her then she has to pay her whatever I pay her. We both knew Mrs. L well enough to know that she would not do that.  Speaking to Lucy felt good and I was calm again.

I remember coming back to a darkened room and having to put my boy to sleep on a blanked on the floor to avoid contact with the still soiled mattress.. As my little baby snuggled against me to have his evening snack I felt so empty, drained and abandoned and the only thing I thought about was phoning my ex.  I had nobody to share the joy of unloading the house, or the pain of losing a friend. As I explained to him what had happened my voice chocked and I cried. I do not know what I expected from him, but old habits die hard, and after the ugly argument with Jackie I had nobody else to talk to.

When Robert slept safely in his crib.  I cleaned up the mattress and washed out the worst dirt from the sheets. I asked Jackie for new sheets and she gave me some. We talked somewhat,  and she tried a more conciliatory tone with me this time.  She claimed she cared about me, and there were a few tears shed from both of us. My tears felt cold on my cheeks, they weren’t the hot tears of remorse and healing.  They were tears of calm acceptance, something has been irrevocably broken.


I am getting good at playing my cards close to my chest. I am still waiting for a chance to tell Jackie that I am moving, and she still has no inkling that the Gonubie house has sold.

I do not feel a tiny bit guilty, as I have been subject to many intrigues in my life and I am not hurting anyone by cloaking my affairs in secrecy for now, awaiting final and confirmed outcomes. So far I have signed and faxed the purchase offer and things are proceeding fine although I had to deal again with infighting between real estate agents. The agent who had been sitting on the property for the past few months has come out of the woodwork and is now trying to sling mud at the junior agent who actually sold it for the benefit of another agency. I guess nothing much happens in that part of the world so they have to prolong such battles.

Another thing that I have been plotting secretly is leave during the last part of September and a few days of October. I am secretly hatching a plan to travel with Robert to Germany for my mom’s 60th Birthday. They are not supposed to know about this yet, since I have no idea how to make this thing work, with moving and setting up a new home, but at least the goal is there.

Today I finally got confirmation of my leave, which had been no small thing to accomplish since I have zero leave days this year. The planning department adjusted my schedule so that I can have two weeks off without taking leave, which was nice of them but took a lot of fighting from my side. So there, I have so many thing to look forward to once I leave this place.

Moving On

The past two weeks have been busy. I have put the house again on the market and all its problems are now again on my shoulders. I have to liaise from here the continued cleanup of the pool, and the infighting between the real estate agents. In the meantime I searched for, found and paid a deposit for our new flat, all in between looking after Robert and translating.

I am waiting for the correct moment to tell Jackie about my moving plans. She has been ill all last week, and just came out of hospital yesterday, so I don’t want to bother her with such a serious subject just now.

The singular ray of sunshine in my life remains my little Robert. I spend as much time as I can with him,  and he is now beginning to show some interest in books. He takes my pointer finger in his hand and moves it on the pictures of animals, and I tell him what each picture is.

Sometimes he keeps moving back and forth between only two pictures and I keep repeating the names. I once tried and asked him where is the cat and he moved my finger to point to the cat, of course it might have been just a fluke.

Robert helping mom translate
Robert helping mom translate

The worries I have are many, but I still managed to get a couple of translation jobs. I work at night and whenever Robert sleeps during the morning. Sometimes I go to bed just before Jackie starts waking up to go to work. The strange hours that I keep come at a cost, I am not too energetic when it comes to activities with Robert.  I still value the time we spend at Moms and Tots class, and it is great to watch Robert’s development and his interaction with other toddlers. At this age children show more interest to their individual play rather than interacting with others, but still on the rare occasions he picks up the queue of mischief from Zack, or tolerates rough play from Jake is great fun to watch.

dsc00207_trimdsc00191_trimThe most obvious progress Robert is making -within the play group and outside it- is in mobility. He is  starting to take hesitant steps, mostly between two sofas.  I will always remember that he took his first steps at Jackie’s house.

When I related this event to his father, he said as I expected he would: “I hope you took a picture”. No I did not, I said. I was the one trying to reassure the little one and trying to catch him in mid run before he falls and gives himself a fright, I did not have two extra arms to hold the camera. My ex husband on the other hand always has more interest for the trophies of parenting, rather than the actual down-and-dirty, grunt work.  He does have a picture of his first child taking her first step right under a Christmas tree. At the time I thought it was a lovely picture now I wonder whether taking the picture in this Christmas setting was a higher priority in his mind than making sure the child was ready for the first step.  Robert’s first step was not a singular event that needs recording. In fact I do not really know when or where it took place, maybe he did take it in Lucy’s presence while I was out working, it is not important. What is important is that I am there to see this whole process, the build-up of confidence, and the growing thrill on my baby’s face. It is important to catch him and enfold him in my arms time after time as he half runs half stumbles the short distance towards me, and to share his breathless thrill at the achievement.  These moments will remain indelible in my mind and in my heart.

For those who still prefer the material evidence to the intangible feelings, I did capture Robert today in a little cell phone video. He took a few steps on the walkway of Jackie’s front garden, I can very well pretend that these were his very first ones.

Bad Omens

I have been keeping mum about my plans of moving out. The timing never seemed right for one thing, and for another I only received a contract yesterday and I am still waiting to deliver it on my off day.

So between Jackie’s tiresome friends and their appearances at odd hours, and my own feeling of guilt, I have been interacting less and less with Jackie, and yesterday I felt really bad when she came home sick as a dog. Apparently she has been vomiting all day, and feeling terrible. I felt sorry for the woman, of course, but later started to worry whether her ailment was something contagious that might harm my child, so I kept myself away from the areas where she was sick.  Her situation did not improve this morning and she managed to drive herself to hospital, taking along an overnight bag just in case she was admitted. She texted me later saying that she will not be back tonight, and was undergoing further tests. Poor Jackie had her fair share of hospital stays as she suffers various ailments that may or may not be a result of her overweight.

Now I have the double guilt of plotting to leave while the woman is sick. And I also have to contend with my uncharitable thoughts and worry that she might have something horrible like meningitis. I keep telling myself that I wouldn’t have minded if I did not have a small baby to think about but I still feel terribly uncharitable. I hope her sickness does not last very long.

Good Omens

I probably met my new lanlords today. I finally got hold of the person who posted the ad for the flatlet on Gumtree and made an appointment to see him this morning.

The flatlet was annexed to the back of the building,  overlooking the back garden and a pool that has been out of order for very long time, by the look of the green sumpy water under the netting. This was an immediate source of worry for me, but the man vaguely commented that it will be covered up in the future.  The flatlet itself was one large rectangular room that ran over 10 meters deep with the french doors to the garden its only source of light. I registered that it had a small bar fridge, and a bathtub in the tiny bathroom, and both were definite advantages for my situation.  I saw the potential of the garden for Petey and Robert, and the other problems I thought I would be able to deal with in time. My expectations were so low that neither the dirty carpeting nor the non-standard layout bothered me much. I just told the man that I will take it, starting next month. I asked him what he required to guarantee me the flat for the coming month and he asked for a one month deposit.

I left him with my email and he promised to email me the banking details, and I was so anxious to close the deal that I texted him after a few hours asking for them again, and I paid the deposit immediately.  Perhaps the place is not perfect but I accepted several good omens : There were many cats, and a woman carrying a toddler welcomed us into the complex (later I learned that she is actually the landlady), so I am happy that it is the right place for all three of us. I cannot believe that Robert, Petey and I will soon have our own place, but I will believe it when we sign on the dotted line.