It spurted upwards and out.
The water jetted high into the air with an almost gleeful exuberance. It fell onto the grass and instantly rushed in every direction, glorying in it’s unrestrained freedom. The burst water main spewed the water out for the next two days with gusto. My mother was not impressed. Not only did her water main have to be repaired but the whole of her front garden was flooded.
I looked at the seeping mish-mash of Mum’s sodden garden and gave so much thanks that this had occurred in George. George is one of the few towns in South Africa that had not been in the grips of a debilitating drought. In 2015/16, South Africa has faced one of its worst droughts in decades. More than 2.7 million households have undergone water shortages across the country. My heart ached at pictures of cattle carcasses scattering the farmlands.They had perished from lack of water.
Water is such a vital ingredient to life. So many things rely on water – plants, fish, animals, man. Man takes water for granted. Until it dwindles and is in danger of no longer being there. Then panic ensues and man watches his portion of water carefully and with a cautious, almost jealous attention.
One Christmas, when I was a child, there was a severe drought in Kwa-Zulu Natal. I remember not being able to swim as there was not enough water in the pool. We bathed every two days. The sprinkler being on in the garden was a thing of the past! Then one afternoon the clouds gathered in huge threatening clusters and loomed darkly overhead. My brother, Patch, outside on the verandah, looked up at the sky and shouted: “C’mon, I dare you to spit at me! You’re not brave enough, are you?”
“Who’re you shouting at?” our cousin inquired.
“The clouds,” my brother retorted. “Just look at them! All puffed up and dark and grey and yet they’re too frightened to spit at me.”
A large raindrop obligingly “spat” itself down on the patio floor. My brother looked at it dumbfounded. This was followed by another. And another.
“They’re spitting, they’re spitting!” my youngest cousin shouted out joyfully, “Look, Patch made them spit!”
What a sight we cousins must have made. Three of us had shampoo and were standing under the leaking gutters washing our hair. Not knowing how long it would last, vast tubs and bowls were filled with rain water and moved hastily inside. Even Lily, the Labrador, was excitedly pulling her blankets outside into the rain. I stood, my face tilted to the sky, eyes closed and my mouth open. The drought broke and I drank the rain and stored it in my memory.
Water is precious but to those that have it, it is often used in a negligent manner. How often have I kept the tap running while cleaning my teeth? I have a bottle of water that I drink every evening. Tonight, I didn’t finish the water. Did I then save it to pour on the plants tomorrow? No, it quite happily made it’s way down my kitchen drain!
Aabid Surti, on the other hand, treasures water.
He grew up on the pavements of Mumbai. He recalled his mother queuing up at 4am for a bucket of water.
“I saw people fight for each drop of water they possessed. This childhood memory still haunts me.”
In 2007, he came across a newspaper report stating that if one drop fell per second from a leaking tap, each month 1,000 litres would disappeared down the drain.
“I couldn’t get that image out of my head, of someone pouring 1,000 bottles of water into the gutter.”
And so, he formed the Drop Dead Foundation, a one-man non-governmental organisation. He hired a plumber and started going around fixing leaking faucets in people’s homes. Then he hit his first hurdle.
The door was generally answered by the women of the house. They were two men. They would get suspicious looks and the door would be shut very firmly in their faces. So a female volunteer was recruited!
People couldn’t believe their good luck. Their leaking taps were repaired free of charge!
“When you honestly set out to do good work, the entire universe is there to back you. Not only that, God becomes your fund raiser,” Surti said.
Just days after he decided to set up the foundation, he received news that he had won a Hindi literature award which came with the prize money of 100,000 rupees ($1,458; £1,045). That lasted him a considerable time.The plumber and volunteer refused to accept any money from Aabid Surti!
“And whenever my finances are about to dwindle, God pokes the right person and I receive a cheque without having to ask.”
I salute Aabid Surti in his bid to save water in Mumbai. He is showing a ‘love of the world’.
A few years ago, George was going through a terrible drought. Some idiotic preacher came to Outeniqua Stadium and claimed to know the reason for our water shortage. He stated that the reason we were ‘crying out for water’ was because we were all steeped in sin and immorality! Recently George has had an excessive amount of rainfall whilst the rest of South Africa is drought infested. Obviously our morals and behaviour have improved considerably!
Today I am going to buy a bucket for my shower so I can catch water before it goes down the drain. My plants will be smiling at all the water they will now receive. It’s a pity I can’t buy a multi-coloured bucket. The thought of that makes me smile.
A rainbow bucket giving a magical flow of life!
I think this BBC video with David Attenborough really says it all! – view here!