I tried hard to refrain from digging up an issue that might seem inane in wake of severe water crisis looming large over us. As if an enraged sun’s trying its baking and grilling skills on us wasn’t enough, this Herculean task further tests our already wilted endurance. This unpleasant ‘summer special’ assignment that only a clever few dare to dodge is the mundane and exhausting chore of refilling the perennially parched residents of your fatigued refrigerator, the much sought after lanky water bottles.
Cross your heart and make a true confession — how many of us replenish the water container willingly and dutifully every time we raid the fridge for a cool sip. I am sure there aren’t many affirmative responses. After all, who volunteers cheerfully for this thankless job unless confronted by the lady of the house or a decree is passed to this effect. During my teenage years, swords were drawn between siblings to settle scores of who refilled maximum number of bottles and who the lazy bones was.
No matter how stealthily you walk up to the fridge, then scan left and right cautiously for any undesirable human sighting before opening the door deftly to satiate your arid throat, when suddenly comes a voice from nowhere: ‘Bring a glass of water for me, too.” This unceremonious plea is dreaded especially by the young and the restless. Like yawning, yearning for cold water on a searing summer day is contagious and sets on a chain reaction but, the dilemma is who’ll bell the cat... err... I mean who’ll refill the bottle.
This observation may seem shallow in a culture that acclaims offering water to fellow beings as a good deed or ‘punya karma’. Sale of bottled water might have become the hallmark of a commercially driven world but the practice of organising chhabeel or freewater service still thrives in our society. But then, charity begins at home and I mean it literally. I grew up watching how my mother would offer chilled water gladly to all weather-weary folks, be it milkman, vegetable vendor, street cleaner, or any hawker passing by. Even the winged buddies were taken care of. Though tired, she ensured that we always had enough provision of cold water and ice trays to dispense.
At that time, the significance of this humane act was lost on me and restocking fridge continually seemed drudgery only. Today, I comprehend the gravity of this disquieting fact that let alone cold water or clean water, mere accessibility to this life-sustaining drink is a luxury to many. No one expects us to dig a well, but we can at least dig into our water wealth and share it with the disadvantaged.
So, the next time you open your fridge and guzzle down a cool cascade, make sure to replenish and store extra water to soothe some sun-scorched soul. The renowned Sufi mystic and poet Rumi said: “Not only the thirsty seek the water, the water as well seeks the thirsty.” Let’s exhort that the twain shall meet.
The writer is a Ludhiana-based freelance contributor (firstname.lastname@example.org)