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Water

by William Wohlgemuth


    I turned on the tap. There was only a faint hissing sound emanating from the pipe.
   
Oh no! I exclaimed. Not again, not on this very day of all days when I expect visitors. I won’t be able to cook the dinner, or make coffee, never mind have a wash and shave or flush the toilet before my visitors arrive.
   
I stamped my foot on the ground and started to swear, using some F-words, the sound blending in well with the hissing of the water pipe.
   
This time I would lodge a complaint with the people responsible for these recurrent inconveniences. I always pay my rates in time and in full and was I therefore not entitled to a full service? After all, we are not living in a third world country, are we?
   
Third world! I thought of all the people there who do not have a water service at all. Damn it! They don’t pay any rates either for a non-existing service, like I do. I started to swear again.
   
I would now have to go to the well a mile down the road to get some water. I picked up a bucket. It was raining outside.
   
A few yards down the road I passed a couple of potholes, filled with water. I put down the bucket and stared at the potholes. For a while I was tempted to go back and get my shaving gear out and have a wash and shave right here out on the road. The potholes were large enough to hold a couple of gallons of water each.
   
The council people, in their great wisdom and foresight had not filled in the holes for a long time. I would write to them and thank them for not filling the holes, in fact I would beg them never to fill in the potholes. I reckoned, in another couple of weeks they would be large enough for me to have a bath out on the road, and to hell with the empty water pipes!
   
I don’t know how long I had stood there gaping at my image mirrored in the water of the pothole, for, in the meantime my bucket was already half full with fresh rainwater, free of charge.
   
I thought again of those poor people in the third world who had to walk for miles in the blazing sun just to fill a jug of water.
   
I lifted up my head and looked into the dark grey sky. Water flushed down my face and trickled down my neck, precious water from the heavens. I was as happy as a blackbird having an early morning dip.
   
Ah, we live in a grand little place, I said to my dog. He lapped up some water from the bucket and looked at me as if to ask: ‘Well, what’s the fuss about?’

 

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Taken from ‘Viewpoints’ (1995), pages 56-57.



William Wohlgemuth
 

Bob Wright