The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The perils of a room-mate

It is traditional, in some parts of the world, for students to have a room-mate. From what I can gather, this room-mate is often not by choice, and may be a stranger, at first. Herein lies the peril.

Recently, a Mongolian student complained to me about her room-mate. She is sharing a room with an Indian national in a student hostel, here, in Singapore.

"She is dirty." she began, in a way that told me there was much more to come. "She is smelly.", she continued, her nose crinkling in unwelcome recall. "Very smelly."

"Perhaps she doesn't wash.", I empathized.

This seemed to get the Mongolian going: "I have NEVER seen her wash. She hasn't showered since she first came to my room: NEVER!"

She was clearly upset at having to share her room with such an unhygienic person. There was repulsion in her face when she mentioned her room-mate -and I could understand why. You can just imagine how smelly someone would soon become, who never washed, yet lived in ever hot, humid, equatorial Singapore.

"Perhaps you should change rooms...and share with a Mongolian." At least, I thought to myself, they would behave in ways that she had come to expect.

"I can't. Not for another week."

There was clearly something else on her mind, something more delicate and in some way worse than what had gone before. I waited in patient silence, while she gathered the words to continue.

"She stole my money. All of it."

I understood her situation. She wouldn't be allowed, by her type of visa, to open a bank account in Singapore and so would have kept quite a lot of cash in her room.

"Have you reported it to the police?"

"The police?" The thought was clearly unpleasant to her. "No. I told the manager of the hostel...he says he will give me another room, in a week."

"You really should report her to the police." I reiterated.

She shook her head slowly. It seems that is not the way Mongolians did things.

"You know what?" she said, "She is studying cookery at University."

That jolted me.

"She never washes," she said, spelling it out unnecessarily, "and is studying cookery. So, one day people will eat her food."

It was my turn to feel repelled. I had to go, however, so I wished her well on changing rooms.

Now, I have never had a room-mate, as such, though I have shared a suite of rooms with another. There are, I feel, many reasons why it can be quite risky. If you are unfortunate in whom you are allotted, it can make for an unpleasant situation indeed, as this Mongolian student's example reveals.

I understand that many Colleges have a premium on residential space and that this forces the need for room-mates, upon their students. I feel, however, that there should be a choice: those who would rather have their privacy, than a room-mate, should be accommodated. There should be room for those who do not wish to have a room-mate.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:15 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can totally empathise with you on such "smelly" matters. Have had experiences with having to sit next to a China-national. They never took their baths regularly too. And then there was that awful unbearable pork-based smell reeking from their bodies. It was vomit- able too....and I had to ask for a different space in the office to work from. That feeling of unbearability I can understand from your Mongolian friend's perspective. BUT stealing I can never forgive. It should have been reported to the police.

6:40 AM  

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