Monday, August 25, 2014

"May I have a glass of water, please?"

Culture and Society ---

Recently I spent some time with a couple and their children.  While there, I was treated with tremendous hospitality.  The street leading to the apartment was so ridden with flooded potholes that I feared the cab that took me there would suffer a damaged chassis.  Their modest apartment was clean and extremely small, with a living room, two bedrooms, and a kitchen.  Despite my repeated protest the hosts gave me their bed for the night.  I assume they slept in the adjoining bedroom (merely separated by a sheet covering the access between the two bedrooms) with their four children or on the sofa in the living room.  Two of the children were in their early teens and the other two (a female and a male) were eighteen and twenty respectively.  The eighteen-year old was six months pregnant.  Also living in the apartment was another pregnant teenager - the girlfriend of the twenty-year old young man.  

I spent a good part of the night talking with the host and his wife.  They both seemed burdened and overwhelmed and were clearly very tired from the day's struggle of trying to make ends meet for their family.   Nonetheless, they were tremendously glad and honored that I was staying with them.  I really enjoyed chatting with them.  Before retiring to bed to endure the symphony and the stabbings of the mosquitoes that awaited me, I went to pee.  The toilet compartment and the shower compartment adjoined each other; both had separate doors.  The flushing system of the toilet was not working, so there was no water for flushing.  There was no sink for washing hands, and when I turned on the tap in the shower compartment no water flowed to greet my waiting hands.  I brushed my teeth without toothpaste.  A torn-open toothpaste tube almost wiped clean of its contents stared at me as it lay next to the soap-dish in the shower compartment.  I did not rinse my mouth as there was no water available.  

I was thirsty, so I asked my male host for a glass of water.  He opened the refrigerator (which I observed was entirely empty) and quietly, apologetically, and with a palpable embarrassment said that they had no drinking water, promising that they would have water available first thing in the morning.  I would have given anything for just a small ice-cube or a droplet of water to slake my thirst.  Never before in my experience had I ever not had ready access to water or ever gone to bed thirsty.  The availability of such things as toothpaste and drinking water was always taken for granted. 

And you want me to participate in that ridiculous and water-wasting "Ice-Bucket Challenge"!!!!???


[Photo Art by Ric Couchman]