A few days ago they said there would be no water for 24 hours in some parts of the city. We filled buckets and empty vessels and covered them up ever since it was discovered that mosquitoes now prefer clean water. One container was too broad, so I used a newspaper over it and as the hours passed the paper got wet, as though it had been sucked in. Nothing was legible except the patch.
The taps did not go dry. There was water everywhere – in the bathroom, the washbasin, the flush tank. It wasn’t muddy water. It was the same old one, transparent and gushing out.
For some reason I felt cheated. I know one ought to be happy, but when you are prepared for emptiness and you pre-fill it, it is treachery. You are left with more than what you wanted. It is like being pushed in a crowded room when you are told you’d have privacy to watch the eyes across from you and smell the fragrance of trees. Then, there is a stampede as flowers get crushed, feet are stamped upon. You thought people did not exist.
I looked at those water containers, covered as though they were precious. They were meant to be. But as the taps flowed they lost all value. They were a waste.
Next day, I waited. For dry taps. Hoping to put the collected water to use. Nothing happened. Out of pity I started pouring mugs with them and using them to clean whatever had to be cleaned. I felt sorry for it.
You might ask, "Wasn't it also water?" No. There is a difference between what you store because you need it and what you get because you expect it. In one you put in effort, you nurse it. You know it will be there only for a while and you want to thank it for its presence and appreciate it for being around when you crave it so badly.
The running water that came when it had said it was not going to be there was a betrayal.
If I felt pity for the buckets, then I was angry with the taps. Angry that they were playing games. Angry that people in other places were laughing, “Oh, your city of the sea and no water for one whole day!”
The sea is like tears, full of saline. The water that comes to homes has been treated to avoid such grief.
I sprinkled salt on unseen wounds and waited for them to liquefy.