I rubbed my eyes as I planted my feet on the floor, still groggy from my nap. The light from my phone’s screen hurt my eyes, causing me to wince; it was nine at night, and I would have to stay up all night if I had any hopes of passing the test that would make or break my grade tomorrow. Determined to do my best, I pushed off the bed, knowing that if I stayed a second longer I’d be tempted to go right back to sleep hence, effectively ruining my semester.
It was abominably cold, and I was glad for the socks I hadn’t had the energy to take off before I went to sleep. I pulled on my hoodie and then absorbing how cold it really was, pulled on another jacket on top. Swiftly grabbing the hand washing liquid, I walked outside towards the communal washrooms. Before entering the stall, I glanced at my appearance and chastised myself; why did I never take my makeup off on time?
As I sat on the cold toilet seat, I began to pass my time by humming an old time. Humming turned into a song, and before long I was belting out Frank Sinatra.
Someone from the next toilet muttered a shut up call, and I mumbled back an apology. That’s just how it was in Holden Tower: nobody had the team to listen to good, old Frank.
I heard them flush, and then wash their hands in the sinks, but remained in the stall. Somehow, I ended up contemplating the latest oil news with Qatar deciding to leave OPEC, and finding a balance between the politically motivated business moves. As I shivered from the cold yet again, I decided it was enough bathroom contemplation for one night.
I reached for the bidet shower, but here’s when things got troublesome: no water flowed out as I pressed on it. I tried again, but there was still no water. I tried turning the tap that was connected to the bidet on and off again but to no avail. I harrumphed in frustration as it hit me, that I had chosen the one toilet stall that had a broken hand-held nozzle, which was just my luck. I was thinking of all the embarrassing ways I might have to speed my way into another stall, but then I heard a noise.
I jumped at the opportunity and called out to ask if someone was there.
“Yeah, everything okay?” It was the voice of the freshman who had moved into the room next to mine. Internally thanking the divine, I made quick work of telling her my condition.
“Hold up, let me bring the Lota from the squat toilet to help you out.” She told me, and I thanked her. However, I could hear her noise of disappointment from the other toilet. I could hear her walking around the other stalls, making slight noises, and I supposed she was having trouble locating the Lota. Apparently, that was not at all the case.
“Uh, so we’ve got a slight problem here,” she hesitantly spoke, “we’re out of water.”
“We’re out of water?” I blurted out, “How is that even possible?”
“They just posted a notice online about some water issues, but help is on the way.”
I felt my heart sinking; just how long would I have to sit in the toilet, cold and unclean? Besides, didn’t someone just use the water?
A groan left my mouth as all sorts of thoughts about water scarcity and dams hit me. I was well on my way to thinking of a global crisis, and how the end was upon us when I heard the freshman tell me to stay put. I agreed, not really having a choice.
For about five minutes, I delved into a world with no drinking water, and shuddered at the prospect of being thirsty, all the while thinking about the people who did not have access to clean water.
Simpleminded questions came to me in that tiny stall:
Why didn’t we build small dams all over the place?
Why couldn’t we switch to renewable energy, which would deduct the costs from oil imports and exports so we could spend more on water purification?
Was there a way to generate energy through the flow of seawater into a purification plant, which would ultimately power the plant?
The freshman was back as I pondered over these questions, with resources to get me out of my situation. She asked me to open the door, so I unlocked it and held it open without allowing her to glance at my indecent form. She handed me a packet of wet wipes, and the miracle thing:
A Lota filled with water.
She shut the door herself as I did my business, profusely thanking her, while she laughingly waved away my gratitude. I couldn’t have been more grateful when the toilet actually flushed, the stored water in the little tank above it coming in handy. The pretty girl had another bottle of water with which we washed our hands. She firmly stopped me when I kept stammering out both apologies, and thankyous, telling me it was no big deal. We ranted about the dorms for a while, before she had to go see a friend.
Although it’ll still be a little while before the water returns and we can all breathe a sigh of relief, I’m grateful that I had a chance to bond with my neighbor over the entire fiasco.
Silver linings and all that.