By day it lurks behind a door in the garage. At night it comes to life with the turn of a key. It huffs and puffs. Its big red body shaking as it gobbles liters of petrol. It growls and snorts, spewing out noxious fumes and noise. I hate it and I love it, for during 8 days of power outage it provided me with some light and comfort at night.
Yes, the monster is a generator.
I just moved into a new home, when disaster struck. A power substation in our area burnt down completely leaving large areas of the city in total darkness in the middle of winter.
Sabotage, some people say, cable theft shouts others, poor maintenance, says another, incompetent workmanship from another.
None of the above shouting and bickering changed the fact that we were without power and would be so for an extended period of time. On top of this it was in the middle of a cold front.
Then the monsters invaded the estate where I now live. Suddenly each house had its own monster . Some sat outside on the driveway, others in garages with slightly open doors to let out the noise and fumes
The air around me filled with constant vibrating noise and the smell of exhaust gasses. Peace and quiet were gone but light and comfort returned.
Even though the monster which was lent to me by a family member provided light and the ability to keep some appliances running, it was unable to warm water in the geyser.
Keeping clean became a daily chore. By the time I had enough warm water to fill the basin it was cool again, so wash in luke warm water I did.
At night no electric blanket warmed the bed, To keep warm I dressed in more layers before going to bed. Even then I found it difficult warm up completely
After a few days people around me became grumpy and cross, No one wanted to put up with the discomfort, the extra work and the noise. We wanted power and the advantages of modern life back.
Then it dawned on me. This is how a large portion of the population in our country lives. Day by day in summer heat or winter cold they have to live without the comforts of modern living. In informal settlements, in poorly put together shacks with no services they make do with what they have.
No wonder they strike and toyi toyi ( a form of protest dance) trying to get the government to pay attention and to provide them with better services.
Although I will never understand why existing infrastructure is burnt down and destroyed during protest action, I now do understand why people resort to such action.
I have power back and with it all the comfort I want, but others still have to do without while winter reigns with an icy hand.
Never take comfort for granted and always remember others less fortunate than me.
The least I can do is to donate blankets and warm clothes whenever the opportunity arises. To pray for our government for wisdom and insight in managing the country.
What about you?