I wake to disturbance outside. On impulse, I reach for my phone and check the time. 4a.m. What the heck? I reach for my trousers tossed over the back of my chair, and get dressed. For a moment, I stand to listen again. I listen for Toro, but hear nothing distinct. Voices, footfalls, and water rushing.
I pick my phone instead of barging out to the unknown in this ridiculous village where they talk funny, and call Toro.
She picks on the fifth ring. “Yes?”
I must admit she sounds different from sleep. “Are you okay? Do you hear sounds outside?”
“Yes. They’re villagers. Fetching water from our tap.”
I pull my curtain aside. Fear has torment indeed. “There’s no water in the village?”
“Looks like it, Abbey. Please I want to sleep.”
She cut the line. Hmm. I stare at the rush outside. Toro and I share a bathroom, and toilet, but a tap has been fixed just outside her window. If there’s no water in the village, then there may soon be a shortage here as well.
How did these villagers know we’d have water here? In my one month of being in Abagboro village, there has been water. I never imagined it would be a problem. I didn’t have a bucket to store water or …
I hear a sharp sound outside, and behold. Two men are in a fight. One hit the other with his metal bucket. Blood spurts forth. I grip the curtain. I cannot involve myself, and the villagers arrive in troves. The two men are ignored as more people crowd around the tap.
I drop the curtain and get back in bed. Of course, I can’t sleep. I prepare for the day instead. I go into our bathroom where there’s only one bucket Toro bought. I take a bath and fill the bucket with water.
To while the time, I dig into my John Grisham. It’s too early to be awake but what can I do? I must have dozed after a while because I startle awake at 7a.m. All is quiet.
I listen for any movements, none. I hear Toro hum in the next room. Good, all must be well then. I’m not a breakfast person, so I take a cup of tea in my normal manner.
Assembly is at eight and I don’t have to be there though I make it a duty. The walk from our accommodation to the school area is five minutes. I have time on my hands.
There’s a knock, and Toro enters. Sometimes I wonder if she hopes to catch me naked the way knocks and enters without invitation.
“The tap is spoilt.” She sighs. “We are going to have water troubles.”
“Good morning. What tap? The one outside?”
“Yes. Two men nearly killed themselves over that tap and with the rush and all, the tap was twisted and couldn’t be shut. Water’s been rushing out without control.” She sighs again. “Anyway, I filled our bucket. We need something to store the water because I don’t know what will happen.”
“Where’s the source of the water?”
She shrugs. “I don’t know. I’m going to school.”
With that, she exits. So temperamental.
I walk round the back of our rooms to assess the damage. The whole area is swamped and the tap is still on. There’s a black nylon around the mouth of the tap, a good person’s effort to staunch the flow. Not effective though. I go back inside my room and get another nylon bag and succeed only in getting myself wet.
I wonder what the source is. How life forces one to make enquiries.
The principal gets to inspect the tap three days later. Maybe it was a mistake to invite him. The water is sourced from a bore-hole, which the school pumps water for the whole compound.
After the principal visited, he stopped pumping the water pending the time the tap is fixed. There began the water trouble. The village source from government-operated water works had ceased. Now, there’s nowhere to get water except the stream.
Toro had bought a keg and a small drum and stored water before the shutdown. Thank God for women. I never envisaged any problem.
But after a week, and the tap had still not been fixed, and our little drum and keg of water were diminished, I decide to call a plumber and do it myself.