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October 23, 2020

My Landlord and I – and a Laughing Emoji

I was lucky to find a rental accommodation just a few days before lockdown. In a way, we did not choose each other — the landlord and I. It was like an Indian (arranged) marriage: I was in a hurry; never got a chance to meet the landlord as he was in Cape Town at that time; and so he sent his brother with the keys and the rental contract.

The brother was good looking, the place was decent, my best friend lived next door and she raved about the landlord all the time, and so I thought why not.

Five months into the relationship, our problems started creeping up. Our personalities clashed big time.

We would quarrel like an elderly couple who spent many years together.

“Don’t take so much lettuce.”
“Don’t you tell me what to eat and not eat.”

We would argue similarly but not about lettuce unfortunately.

We bickered all the time when we chatted on WhatsApp — and you would almost be sure that we hated each other — but neither of us wanting to leave the other. As a landlord, he cannot ask me to leave and I on the other hand, don’t have the time and energy to look for another accommodation.

His WhatsApp messages have a condescending, patronising tone: I would flare. I would react. I would call him names.

One day he said we should meet and talk.

I know myself well and so I replied: “I don’t want to talk right now. Give me some time, I will be fine soon.”

Realising too late that it sounded like a message from a lover after a fight.

Obviously, the landlord was confused and so replied: “But I am your landlord.”


“This is a professional relationship.”


“We don’t need time. We need to sort this out immediately.”

“Sorry, I need time.”

“We have to meet”, he insisted.

I relented: “OK, let’s meet at the coffee shop at 2.”

And there I go again – I want us to sort our domestic quarrel over coffee.


At a healing session, I worked on my triggers and impulsive reactions. And lo and behold, a few weeks later, the universe sent me a test.

The landlord and I got into another quarrel via WhatsApp.

This time I did not call him names. But I think I was sarcastic because he said to me that he never had a rude tenant.

I immediately wrote back: “And you — you are the rudest landlord I ever had :D”

But then I had the common sense to add a laughing emoji at the end of the sentence.

He did not reply.

“When a woman laughs during an argument, you must know that the psycho part of her brain has just been activated.”

Time to abort the mission.

I guess he knew that for the very next day he came to fix the leaking gas pipe.

Radhika Mia is an author and visual artist based in Johannesburg. She is Founder of

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