After slogging through the last couple of weeks, now I’ve got time on my hands, real time that isn’t eager to slip away. So I am tenderly dealing with each second trying not to scare time off like a shy sparrow on my window sill. I found time for dramas and movies, ones I had been waiting to watch. My mind has always found recess in pop culture. It always takes me back to my teenage years I spent in front of the laptop immersing myself into what would become popular once I was older.
Apart from continuous internal dilemmas what I am facing now is a severe lack of certainty thanks to the nearing end of my Master’s degree. It’s like I can see the big bad world coming at me in full speed. What’s more is that I was caught by surprise at around ten at night by the fact that when I opened the water faucet and no water came out. Honestly, the timing couldn’t be more off.
Life can be truly surprising and almost ridiculous, straight out of one of those comic books, so I ran from washroom to washroom on the floor wondering if I was imagining what was happening. In India we’re always prepared for times like these, because well, in India you expect it to happen. Here, it’s unimaginable, because it’s the developed part of the world. Water shortages aren’t for coutnries like the UK. One’s whole life could come to a standstill over something like this.
So I decided I am going to take care of this in the morning, if I am not getting water it means others are not too. So instead of fretting, I decided to sleep. At times like these it’s only people who’ve had to save every last drop of water in the summer and count buckets before taking a bath who understand how to handle the situation. If there’s a plumbing issue, there’s a plumbing issue and nothing can be done especially not at 10 in the night.
For all the times I’ve wished for my life to be a movie or novel, I didn’t mean this. I didn’t mean not having water in the faucet. Fate has a wonderful way of making one regret their wishes. It’s a classic prank really, and not something you will forget quickly. What made it easier, was the fact that the entire building was suffering and not me singularly. It’s better to suffer as a community, that’s what my survival instinct says.
On the other hand, I was thinking about having a stress-free weekend, but like all bad times, everything goes wrong together. So obviously this was the perfect time for me to be feeling under the weather, apart from the chaos in the building as part and parcel of our internal animal instincts kicking in, forgetting that we have evolved, understanding in this precious moment why we won’t survive a day when the end comes, feeling like maybe this is the end.
I saw people asking the staff why this is the case, on their faces I saw the frustration, that unmasked frustration we hide under all our smiles to put on the best front, to look polite. This is basic human emotion. It’s glorious. I contemplated nicking water from the sinks in the kitchen for my needs but I felt like I am better than that. That’s when I realised we’re conditioned into propriety forgetting that we must live at the end of the day.
I was conscious about how it would look, you know me being Indian in a developed country, confirming all their suspicions of the third world, giving them a glimpse into the familiar Indian scenery they witnessed through Slumdog Millionaire. Whereas, in India this would have been the only way, to not be picky. Survival is this, and I know through this post I might be painting a terrible picture of my country, but yeah Summers can be harsh where we come from. When I came to London, I realised there needn’t be mosquitoes, power cuts needn’t be part of the routine and that endless running water can be taken for granted. It’s an easy trap to fall into.
It was a gut-wrenching realisation. I come across so many recycling posters, ‘save water’ signs and all these awareness campaigns while I was here. But, honestly how will people who’ve not felt ‘lack’ understand a life without these things? Funny thing is, I am from a city in India, where the mosquitoes are also city-bred so are invariably kinder, where at least we have water eighty percent of the time and power cuts are seasonal. So really, what do we know?
I am being real here, I am just saying it as it is. It’s depressing actually, I don’t know about others but I realised today the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’, the ‘them’ we have so conveniently constructed, imagined and painted in darker shades. This ‘them’ that we’ll never be part of. We only think of ‘them’ at times like these, there are no other reasons to think about ‘them’. We only understand ‘them’ when we go through a fraction of what they felt. I know here, people will fix this in hours and everything will be restored to normality. But there are people still waiting, out there. It’s mind-boggling.