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Water in the night

posted 29 Aug 2011, 01:06 by Robert McLaren


I was just drifting off to sleep at about 1.30am when I thought I heard the sound of water, very faintly. Then I heard a bird outside, quite far away. It sounded rather like the sound I thought was water. So I allowed myself to drift off. Two hours later I woke up and went to the toilet. Again I got that sense that there was water somewhere. I flushed the toilet to see – and lo, the cistern was full and as it emptied, water began to flow into it. The water had come!

I rushed to the girls’ room and knocked on the door, not too loudly so as not to frighten them. When I got an answer I said: “Come, quick. Water.” Deon was up in a flash – Charmaine rather later. She loves her blankets and she was not feeling too well.

I switched off the alarm and we went outside through the kitchen door to the outside tap – always the first to get water and always the best pressure. We started filling up 25 litre zvigubhu (containers) and with them a large plastic dirt bin we had bought new and turned into a water storage tank – probably near to 100 litres. We filled up a cooler box, from where we normally draw our drinking water, and we filled up many 2 litre plastic bottles. Then I turned on the tap in my bath and started filling that. By the time we got back to sleep again we had water! Lots of it – to last us for the next four or five days for sure.

For close on three weeks, we had not had water for more than an hour or two. Now we had been told, the City of Harare was closing down the main water treatment plant and the whole of the city would not have water for a few days while a serious fault was being attended to – and we were already down to our last drops. So this sudden, unexpected  windfall had really come not a moment too early.

And this in a suburb where, during the worst times, say between 2004 and 2009, though we had had very little electricity and endured all the other problems people in Zimbabwe had to cope with in those days, we almost always had water. So why no water now? A mystery – unsolved as yet.