I talked to my mom today. She told me that my hometown, the Ji Village, will have running water soon. Isn’t that amazing?
When I was growing up, my hometown was your typical Chinese village: no paved road, no electricity, no tv, no cars, even tractors were rare. In fact, if for whatever reason, a truck or a tractor was in the village, all the kids would go and look. The social status of the children who have any relation to the driver would jump exponentially. Any children who had the privilege to get into the driver’s cabin would bounce on the seats up and down with excitement.
We lived in a house with earth walls and thatched roof. A small radio, a bicycle, a watch, and a sewing machine were our biggest possessions. We used kerosene lamps at night. Wheat straws, twigs, branches, and corn stalks were used for cooking. We didn’t have a toilet. Instead, we had a walled area for that purpose. Human waste was collected and stored as fertilizer. In fact, when there is no farm work in the field, people like my grandfather would carry a thing called 粪头 to collect animal droppings around the village for the next planting season.
About 30 meters south of our house, there is a communal well, shared by 5 or 6 families. It is pretty deep, I’d say around 10 meters. The water buckets we had were shaped like a cylinder and made of sheet metal. To get water from the well, you put the bucket handle through a hook, which was at the end of a fairly long rope. When the bottom of the bucket touches the water, you can start shaking the rope so that the bucket is tilted enough to let water in, but not so such that the handle slide off the hook and the bucket sink to the bottom of the well. If you managed to get the bucket about half full, it is challenging to get it completely full, because it is hard to tilt the bucket at that point. Once you manage to get a full bucket of water, you can pull it up. It takes some practice to get it right. In the few times that I did it, I managed to get half full bucket most of the time.
So, it is nice to have running water in the village. That will definitely improve villagers’ life.