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Adventure Fiction Teens & Young Adult

I wasn’t actually used to such sight. I wasn’t living with my family when they moved back to the city after the civil war. I was sent to live with another family based In another town when they rejoined my dad in the city. 

In the village when I began to notice things, we had a big concrete water tank that serve us well into another rainy season during dry seasons. The knowledge I had from fetching water from the stream during dry season is scant but I can distantly recall being there one morning with my mother and siblings. I used to hear the adults talk about trip to that stream. 

Just imagine waking up every blessed day around to 5am for a daily trip to that stream is kilometer away with clay pots, buckets, and Jerry cans throughout the duration of dry season for water that is barely enough to see you through for a day. That is faith of almost all the families that made up five villages that depends on that stream for their survival. 

The adult that made those trips each morning don’t even see the journey as suffering. When I say adults, it covers anyone that is up to ten years in age. You see where adults starts in rural area African terminology. Eight years even. These adults are forced by circumstances to get up each morning by 5am for this trip. People are always what they do each day. That trip became second nature to those villagers and they found way of making it to sound as a trip to Mecca. The way they garnish the tales coming from that stream made it so enticing that every kids wanted to be part of the trip. 

Their attitude made the whole suffering an adventure. Everyone wanted to be part of that early morning adventures and it was in that euphoria one morning in late 70s when I was barely five that I cried myself into joining my mother and siblings for that trip. I was given a bottle of empty beer as a container for the trip. I am sure they agreed to take me along for me to see the suffering aspect and count myself out in next journey. 

      I wasn’t disappointed. Those early trips were something else. The whole stream was teaming with people of all ages. It was like light festival galore that wee morning. Excess people, excess lights of all categories. Local lamps, torch lights, torch fires etc. It was just like market day to me. The only difference was that one is in living day light while the other was in darkness. The crowd was the same and the noise the same. Some going and some returning. Some make that trip two or three times each day and many has no time for banter. A wave of hands is all familiar faces and voices get from people.

You can call it humanity at work if you like. To think that all those humans regards those trips as their cross made the carrying so much easier and painless. In hindsight, I came to realized that human nature can be a funny thing. Once there is no alternative, you won't see anything or anyone complaining of anything but once there is a choice, complaints becomes second nature. I never heard any family or any kid complaining. You needs to bath with the water, cook with it and washing of clothes are usually done in the stream, meaning that it is once a week core. 

Even some showers in the stream there too to economize water. That sweat has the last laugh at the expense of those that showers there is not counted. Shower is shower and dry cleaning yourself later is entirely different thing. 

    I have never heard of anyone among all the able bodied youths fetching water for anyone for pay. People were stinkingly poor. You might be wondering how we manage in rainy season. Almost every compound has a local well. It was tradition to dig the well once you have compound whether the house is of cement or mud. The front of the house there is usually were it’s situated to collect waters once rain falls. Since rain falls at least once in two weeks, there is never a shortage of water throughout the rainy season. The cistern is filled to the brim. 

  The story of the stream started heading to the archives of our history slowly in early 80s when few with money started building cement reservoir tanks like the one we have in our compound. Once filled to the brim, it would see many families through to the next rainy season. That reservoir line became a thing of competition among young male adults and it turned into tradition of it’s own. You can't build house without budgeting for reservoir. People without one usually survive dry season through the hospitality of those that has. 

   For sure, if you ask any grown up person adult now to get up around 6 for trip to the same stream, the person would prophesy on your head and heads of your children's children for trying to kill him. You see what choice can do to humans? 

At times, I wonders as a black man about life made so easy. Not as if I was born into suffering and swim in it that I can't do without it anymore. Maybe I might occasionally return to the my root intentionally when forced away from it, but there is no research to support such assertion. I have seen people in rural areas that prefers their foods being prepared with fire woods as against gas, kerosene or any other artificial fires. Their excuse is always that the taste isn't the same. My dad is even guilty of this one despite his many years in the city. “What happened, is the firewood no more?” he would always ask once his food in the village is prepared with stove. “tomorrow you remind me to buy another woods” some even prefers to eat certain foods with bare hands for it is sweeter that way than using spoon. 

    It’s unfortunate that you have not seen my grandfather at his age toiling away in his farms with crude implements. He prefers them to modern tractors even when villagers hire one from the local government secretariat. The old man and many of his age would always let you know that the crops produce plenty and taste better when sweat is expended on it with crude implements than tractors.

  “ keep that nonsense machine away from my land” is usually their order to the driver of the tractor. “If you all are under cure, we are not” 

In middle 80s, I rejoined my family that left village for the city. That was when I saw that people pay people to fetch water for them. For sure, I know of tankers supplying waters to some people, that was what the family I was living with does. But a man supplying water as his means of livelihood was new to me. Surprise really. But it is normal process in the city there. There is this Hausa man nicknamed chukwuma whose work was to fetch water from the boreholes not even far from our building.

 There is public tap that opens in the evening. It serves about three streets in that area my family lives but just like most government run things, it is never reliably, never have the people’s trust and the each evening, the crowd would be so many that some will not get water within that three hours it is usually open. At times, there would be serious fight that involves using iron buckets as weapon that many parents prefers chukwuma to sending their wards there. 

      Who even gave that muslin man Igbo name Is surprising to me. I have never heard chukwuma spoke Igbo language, am not even sure he understood for people uses pidgin language in communicating with him. I believe that chukwuma was in his 40s then. Then, I believed he was old. Funny how any tall person is always see as being old by the kids. Fetching water for others was mainly the work of Hausa people then just like cobbler work was. His equipment consist of nothing but empty big oil tins. The tins were strategically cut at the top and strong stick tied with rope that extends upwards to meet a strong iroko log that serves as lever he crosses on his shoulders to lift the two tins. At times, he will use four tins at a ago. Two at each side and carry all.

Very early in the morning, you would see him making his rounds and he will remain at it until all his customers have showered, done their morning cores and went to work or schools before he retires. In the evening, when people returns from works and schools, chukwuma is at works until late in the night. To avoid waiting in the morning for him, some pay him in the night to supply them water against tomorrow morning. Monday to Monday, the story of chukwuma remains the same. No retreat, no surrender, no excuses, no complaints. 

    Am not even sure that the guy is making enough meaningful returns from that his line of business. I mean the rates he works is not the rate am seeing changes in him unless If showing up is not in their culture. He might even be richer than the people he serve. The daily routine of providing services to the people by the government and chukwuma remained unchanged until we packed out of that area. Government services remained erratic while chukwuma remained constant and dependable.  

August 20, 2022 07:08

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5 comments

Graham Kinross
08:52 Sep 03, 2022

You have a talent for capturing human nature and a strong voice. It’s true that those with the least to complain about do it most.

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S. E. Mary
18:17 Aug 31, 2022

The title was perfectly selected and the story phenomenal. There were many eye opening sentences that I truly enjoyed. Great work Phillip and thanks for sharing! I look forward to reading more by you!

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Philip Ebuluofor
12:30 Sep 02, 2022

Thanks for your time. highly appreciated.

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Bradon L
16:04 Aug 25, 2022

This was so Interesting Philip! I really enjoyed it. “Once there is no alternative, you won't see anything or anyone complaining of anything but once there is a choice, complaints becomes second nature.” - I really like this sentence. You made a very powerful point!

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Philip Ebuluofor
15:21 Aug 26, 2022

Thanks a lot. It's a reality here among the living. Complaining a lot of everything.

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