Rain dance paid off.
We have discovered – in the garden of the house we anticipate moving into in June (according to contractor) or October (according to cynical husband) – a water hydrant. It came to light after we had cleared the area of maize and bush and years of accumulated rubbish and weeds.
It lies in the ground proudly, and promisingly, sporting an H. I didn’t know what the H was for until the plumber told me: Hydrant, he said. In English. He might as well have announced there was an oasis at the bottom of the garden.
Or, for that matter, a well.
Sylvester, who is busily and optimistically, trying to urge a lawn forth by tossing bucket upon bucket of water on the grass we have planted telephones me. (Everybody in Africa owns a mobile phone: they are a ubiquitous status symbol: Sylvester cycles to work in overalls and Wellington boots, clutching his cell phone-cum-camera which is a far trendier model than my own).
The plumber is here, he announces.
I leap into my ancient car which was recently spray painted. It does not remotely resemble the gleaming new 4×4 modelling the colour on the paint chart: it is not a sleek bronze, it is a dirty Euro-trash gold. And I race round to the new house where a dozen fundis are languishing in the shade of the recently completed verandah. (Clever chaps: finished that off first so they’d have somehwere to languish).
Sylvester introduces the plumber as, merely, ‘the plumber’.
I enquire of him what his name is.
‘Fundi Maji’, he tells me importantly.
No, your name?
‘Technician’, he says beaming.
I tell him my name in the hope this will encourage him to be more forthcoming.
It does. He is called Jimba, he says.
We examine the hydrant together and he demonstrates how I can up the ante in the irrigation stakes by introducing a few valves and the odd hose in order that I can harvest some extra water. Not a tired little leak, but a great gushing torrent, he says. I will be able, he assures me, to fill up the newly constructed water tank, with its 60,000 litre capacity, in less than an hour.
This sounds a mite too confident. Not to say, dicey. That kind of pressure and I risk demolishing the house or certainly blasting all the dozing plasterers off the verandah.
But I’ll take the chance.
And hope that my Outpost garden will, in time, courtesy of resident hydrant, be a veritable sanctuary of cool, lush, green; my showers always an exhilarating experience of water pounding against my skin instead of present frustrating exercise in attempting to wash beneath a lazy dribble, and my toilets perpetually flushed and sweetly scented.