Friday, December 5, 2008

Su yox

Few things irritate you more than approaching the sink, turning the knob, hearing a slight suction/gurgling sound, and seeing no water flow from the spout. Dang, Man, I was really looking forward to washing my hands / taking a shower / cleaning the dishes (although I don’t do much of that in this house) / having a drink of water / etc. / etc. You also can’t help but get perturbed when your sweetheart host mother looks at you and says, “Su yox!” (“no water!”). What do you mean we don’t have water? And why don’t we have water? And when are we going to get the water back? These are the thoughts that enter your head when you’re in this situation, and they aren’t completely unjustified.

But then you have to think a little bit. First, it’s not your host mother’s fault. It’s not like she called the water company (or whoever’s in control) and said, “Eh, we just don’t feel like water today.” Secondly, let’s get real here. At least we have running water. Drinkable running water is there pretty much all the time, and that cannot be said everywhere. I thought of that as I was on my way to the school this morning and saw people filling up large receptacles with water. Okay, so they had to go and fetch the agua from there instead of turning the knob at the sink in their homes, but in several places that’s every day, whether they like it or not. I once heard from a woman who lived in the Gambia that, in the place where she was living, the water would be delivered. It could be anytime, day or night, and the people would have to come out and get their water that way.

Alright, look. I ain’t no bleeding heart lecturing martyr. I like my hot water. I like my glass of H20. I like my instant coffee. But it’s important to remember that water doesn’t just come from nowhere. Making the water hot isn’t always as simple as turning the knob. What we need isn’t always at our fingertips, and, well, there’s just no harm in knowing that.

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