She enters her apartment and sits in front of the fan trying desperately to stop her sweating, her body just not breathing through her clothes. She looks for her hose and begins filling the water tank in the kitchen and, after, the one on the balcony. Although the pump howls as if it were going to break down along with the buildings that surround it, the water pressure is so low there isn’t even enough to fill two tanks at the same time. Also, she must watch the tanks as they are filling to ensure the water doesn’t overflow and flood the apartment below, for this would cause terrible grief with her neighbors. A few months ago, overwhelmed by never-ending problems, she left for work leaving the valve open and two apartments were flooded. Already feeling so much shame, never had she so wished for the ground to open and swallow her as when she came home that evening and found the neighbors below waiting for her with looks that could kill and mattresses drying off in the sun. She of course accepts the responsibility for being careless but she cannot suppress the thought that if only water was available 24 hours a day, it would be impossible to accidentally leave the pump going and she wouldn’t have to fill all the buckets and tanks crammed into her already narrow apartment.
Water has always been a problem. Or rather, the problem. Fifteen years ago, when she arrived, a bride to this newly constructed building in a clearing without trees or sidewalks on the outskirts of town, they had water on alternate days. Now there are twice the number of buildings and they only have access to water every three days, and the problem with the water is always a topic of discussion amongst the neighbors and the delegates and council members. The planning continues, almost out of sight and out of mind, but occasionally they issue encouraging words: the finances have already been approved, the new system will be ready by the middle of next year, we’re waiting for the materials to arrive… and so on and so on. Today, ‘the water problem’ remains the same, as does so much in her life and so she no longer goes to the meetings. She no longer understands those who are consoled thinking there are worse places, places with water only once a week, instead of trying to find ways to solve the problem. But ‘progress continues’, as the corporate catch phrase goes. Tired of waiting for a solution to arise, people simply find band-aid solutions. Those more fortunate have hung their tanks on the outside of the building giving it a multi-colored make-over. Others, the less lucky, fill the space inside their apartments with water tanks. So many tanks filled to make up for the delayed arrival of the water have upped the danger of leaks and the risk of flood, a flood like hers.
After that horrible incident with the neighbors, she has now made it a part of her early-morning routine to verify that the water valves are closed and everything electrical in her kitchen is turned off. And that is what she does now, and one more time, in the warm morning, she leaves her apartment.