The most unwelcome visitor to my apartment is sadly also one of the most frequent – the power cut. As office air conditioning units conspire to overload the city’s power grid, I expect electricity to periodically disconnect during the day. However, as Summer progressed the nocturnal power cut also became a recurrent event. I could be doing anything when a sudden assault of darkness envelops all, leaving me stranded mid-task. Power cuts have occurred during all of the following:
– Having an evening meal with a colleague
– Doing the washing up (@my former flatmates – Yes, I know, what were the chances of that!)
– In the bathroom (To further complicate matters I then dropped the toilet roll and passed some considerable time blindly groping around for it)
– Mid-shower, completely covered in soap (The water cut out as it is powered by an electric pump)
– Rather ironically, while I was writing this blog post
One day in late January the unwelcome visitor took up residence for the foreseeable future. An explosion at a major power station left central Mozambique facing a life without energy for nobody knew how long. What was at first an inconvenience became increasingly more demoralising as batteries ran out of charge, work ceased, evenings became inactive, sweat-soaked nights were endured and running water was cut for days and then weeks at the height of Summer. Local businesses had to close, profits were lost, expensive generators were bought to stem losses and diesel ran low as people panic bought fuel to maintain them. During this time my favourite place was seated in the car with the air con on, a brief respite from the sweltering heat only for the length of my commute.
One night I was vacantly staring at the walls trying to trace the outline of various objects in the gloom when a little voice in my mind whispered ‘why don’t you open your Bible?’ By torchlight I flicked to the next passage in my reading, 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, and proceeded to read ‘But you, my brothers are not in darkness that this day should surprise you like a thief…You are all sons of the light…We do not belong to the night or to the darkness’. Here was a pertinent message of hope and light that helped me to rise above dark circumstances.
Power has returned intermittently and, over two weeks since the incident at the power station, we have some semblance of normality. I heard a report on the radio recently about several towns in the Lusikisiki area of South Africa also being cut off from their water supply for almost two weeks. When a local lady was interviewed about the problem she replied resolutely ‘life still goes on without running water, you have to make do with what you have’. Recent experience has taught me to look for opportunities when resources are limited… and that there exists a gap in the market for luminous toilet roll.