Drip. Drop. Like brainwashed robots, we walk around, day after day, night after night, all the same. Always thirsty. Always parched.
I wasn’t paying much attention to cleaning the pots, but how I wished I was washing them with water, to feel the clean, soapy water splash over my dry cracking hands. But no. I was washing with ash and dirt, in an arid and bare stone bowl, which seemed to make my hands more fractured and make me pray for clean water even harder. Scrape.
Scratch.Scrape. Scratch. The sounds of the monotonous scrubbing as the brush scratched the pan. Inevitably, it was the woman’s job to do all of the washing up and therefore I encouraged my daughters to help me. Nevertheless, on some occasions my son would assist me, but only if no-one else is around to help. My tongue swiped across my lips again. My mouth was as dry as a desert and I panted from the heat, which was not helping.
A slight breeze blew past making my mouth even drier. Every swallow was like glass down my throat and my eyes watered with the effort. Water was a wishful dream but I had to stay strong, if not for me, for my children.
We take every opportunity to drink but there is never enough, sometimes it only wets our lips, our throats if we’re fortunate. We will need to drink deeply at the next source we find, clean or not. Whatever toxins it might hold it still gives us a better chance than dehydration – to risk dying of thirst, or risk of dying from a waterborne disease.”It’s mine”, “No it’s mine”, “No it’s mine”. The noises pulled me out of my daydream.
“It’s mine”,”No it’s mine”, “No it’s mine”. Their voices were rising up and up. “It’s mine”,”No it’s mine”, “No it’s mine”. That’s it, I thought. My head was a blur and with every word they wailed at each other I could feel my anger boiling and my patience dropping. All that rage came out faster than magma and just as destructive. I had white knuckles from clenching my fist too hard, and I gritted my teeth in the effort to remain silent.
My hunched form exuded an animosity that was like acid – burning, slicing, potent. My face red with suppressed rage, I slammed the pot I was trying to clean forcefully onto the dirt floor. Head throbbing with dehydration, I snapped “Don’t you have something better to do than to sit there bickering all day?”.
My throat roared with pain as I shouted. Shortage of breath is the first sign that you can’t go much longer without water. I’m breathing but the air just won’t go in, like my lungs are surrounded by metal bands. Next, comes the rising panic, the dizzy feeling and the need to get low to the ground. I coughed, trying to clear my airways, and at the end of each cough, it had that whistling sound you get when the airways are closing up. I took a sharp gasp of breath, bringing me back to the reality of the painful steady breathing that I should use to by now, however, I still yearned for a breath that didn’t remind me of how much I wanted, needed water. They both murmured something indecipherable and looked partially sympathetic. “Just go!”I was already miles past the breaking point of my patience and I didn’t want to take it out on my children any more than I already had.
They scampered out the door, probably going to one of the neighbours’ houses, just as I pulled my hands around my knees hugging them so close that they dig into my chest. All I could hear was my breathing, an echoing reminder that I have to keep living as long as I can. No matter the pain. No matter the suffering.I didn’t mean to sound that aggressive – it was all of the hatred and pain of the past few weeks that I took out on them. It is unreal how the absence of water can tear a perfect family apart. We have everything, even though our house is small, and food is scarce. But we have each other and we have love.
Nevertheless, the effect of the drought is tearing us apart. Inch by inch. Yard by yard.With my head in my hands, I sighed. All I ever thought about was water, and how if only we had water, life would be perfect. I know what everyone tells me, I should appreciate everything that we have, some people have less, however, I can’t understand how any God could put us through these horrors. If there is a God up there.
Why would he make us endure this? What have we done wrong? I just need to know. For my family. I appreciate that have my family and that we are all alive, but every day without water was a day closer to death and a day closer to how I was two years ago. That was the nearest I have come to darkness. I don’t remember much about that time, just how tired I was.
So, so tired. So tired that some nights I didn’t think that I would wake up in the morning. I can recall feeling confused, delirious like the walls were closing in on me.
Even just thinking about that time sends shivers down my spine. That was also the closest I have come to losing my faith; losing my trust in God. I have always been a religious person, ever since I was a little girl but back then I could not understand why my family was going through such pain and suffering. I still don’t .
. . Drip. Drop.
Drip. Drop . .
.Joy. Revelation. Delight. That’s all I could think about when it happened. Wonder. Marvel.
Amazement. I cannot express in words the pure delight the water brought me. The water brought so much happiness, a smile graces my lips as the memories come flooding back to me. The way the water seemed to wash away all of the problems, forget about the future, forget about the past. Just live in that one moment when everything was dreamlike. As I ran into the jet of water, I forgot about all responsibilities and I thanked God for this blessing, he had responded to my prayers. I promised that I would never lose faith again, and even though the darkest of times somewhere deep inside I had never lost hope, or at least I told myself that.
I cherished this moment, for this was one of the most wonderful moments in all my life. Feeling the water splash upon my face, I sobbed with delight, feeling the miracle of water as little drops of heaven nourished my skin then drizzled down, falling into the silver puddles forming around my feet. I needed to be self-controlled – be the adult – take advantage of the situation. How did I know how long it would be before we could get more water? At that point, I had to force myself out of the water and I hurried back home to get anything that could hold liquids. Pots, pans, bowls; every drop of water I could save was sacred. I remember looking around at the children in the spray of moisture.
I wished I could be a child again, I still do, they do not have to worry about next year, next month or even tomorrow. Free of responsibility. Free of worry. All of the children’s eyes were alight, and every muscle seemed to move, dance and jump. There is something so intoxicating about an excited child.
They bounce, they pounce, they squeal and they run. As their grins get wider everyone about them starts to smile – even the people who love to complain. That’s how they were that day as if they were bursting with liquid sunshine from within. As I started to fill the pots up with water, I glanced to my left and through the mist, I saw a startling band of colour.
A rainbow had formed which left me speechless. An array of colors innocent in the spray of water which shows how even through the heat of summer, the earth can make a beautiful thing. It felt like a warm embrace, a beautiful symbol of mercy and kindness. I closed my eyes and placed my hands on my ears, blocking out any signs of other people.
I treasured this moment, the sensation of the cool water flowing across the bare skin of my arms, my back, my face, I felt like I could live forever if only we had this miracle every day. Sitting there, I tasted the sweet, refreshing water, the sense you only have after you have been dehydrated for what seemed to me like forever. Water doesn’t have a specific smell, but it does have a powerful aroma of freshness to it, a scent of optimism, that everything is going to be okay in the end. On the other hand, the sound of the water was forceful, like a firework exploding in the night sky sending hot sparks into the cool evening air, soaring until they are extinguished into blackness.I need those memories to stay with me, I need them to soothe me when the bad ones threaten to erase all of my elation.
If I forget that time, I honestly don’t know if I could go on . . .
Feeling exhausted, I sat up straight and stretched out my arms, my skin cracking under the sudden movement. I need to make myself useful, I was wasting precious time, but it is hard. I am so tired. I feel as though energy is being constantly drained out of me, as though I’m leaking electricity. A single, red-hot tear ran down my cheek. See, leaking. But not with electricity, with treasured water. I quickly caught the tear and brought it to my lips, however by the time I did, my finger was just barely damp, which seemed to make me crave for water even more.
I couldn’t be so weak. I stood up, my legs shaking and quivering and with every movement. I let out a wheeze, like air escaping from a deflating balloon.
Every step feels like walking in quicksand, my feet as heavy as buckets of water. I put one hand on the wall to steady myself. What had my life come to? I needed a blessing, I needed water.Drip. Drop.
Drip. Drop. Like brainwashed robots, we walk around, day after day, night after night, all the same. Always thirsty. Always parched. Hoping, praying for a miracle.