Picasso in the Bunkroom

As I entered my bunkroom, I realised my bunkmates were unusually silent, and each of them agape, staring up at the ceiling.

“Oh f*ck”, exclaimed one of them, B, who I was to learn later was behind this whole incident.

I looked up, and what I saw was his attempt at contempory art. What happened was this:

“Who’s camou cream is this?” asked B, as he lifted the tube of camouflage cream from the plastic bag. Up went a hand of another bunkmate, and up went the tube of camouflage cream (we just learnt grenade-throwing the day before).

“Oh shit,” screamed B, as his gaze moved with the arc of the tube’s loft. The tube went up, past the fast-moving blades of the ceiling fan, no hit! Then as gravity pulled the tube back down, bang! Instant Picasso.

Nice, but out of place

It actually looked nice, and I actually enjoyed the colour it put into our otherwise plain-white room. But reality sunk in, and I realised B’s two-worded comment summed it up perfectly. Splashed across the ceiling boards was green camouflage cream; some of it had landed on the beds as well, some flew as far as the corridor.

The next day would have been book-out day, the first of a series of holidays. We had been looking forward to this week for God-knows-how-long, now it seemed to us we won’t be booking out for God-knows-how-long.

Just before this incident, we were given company admin time, which in layman’s terms means free time. Our Commanding Officer, a 2nd Lieutenant, told us to “go up and do whatever we liked” — the ironies of this incident were not lost on us; after we cursed, we laughed.

Picasso Seeks Help

Thankfully for this Picasso wannabe, his bunkmates (whom he shares with me) are some of the most helpful and wonderful people. Immediately we went to work: a chair stacked on a table, one of us would climb up and remove a ceiling board, bring it down, and clean it as best we could.

Detergent and wet pieces of cloth were our tools for this job, and it worked quite well.

“Hey, bring this up, it’s cleaned already,” said W, another bunkmate of mine. The room had gotten rather noisy, as we had gotten into the groove of area cleaning.

Then, a sudden silence. I would not believe my eyes. Everybody looked at each other as W looked at what was once a full piece of ceiling board, now one part in his hand, one part on the floor — it summed up our hearts perfectly.

After another moment of shock (and awe, honestly, awe), we gathered ourselves and quickly grabbed some masking tape to tape it up. This though, looked ugly as sin. We then removed another ceiling board from another part of the room (one where it isn’t as obvious), and exchanged the patched up one with it.

As other people from other bunks walked past us, a creative friend of mine, D, started spinning stories.

“Cobwebs. Sergeant Chan said he saw cobwebs and we’re clearing it now,” said D. People believed.

As a final touchup to the green-stained boards (detergent works well, but not perfectly well), we applied some talcum powder, smudging it on the greenest areas.

After about three to four hours of cleaning (it was a very free day for us), we managed to make the room looking as new as before (well, almost). So thank God. The only reason I’m at home writing this today, is due to some wonderful teamwork, and creative thinking! Well done, boys!

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