In the evenings when the city power is on, the city pumps water through the underground pipes. You turn on the electric pump and pump the water into your water tank. The water tank sits atop a metal tower beside the house and about level with the roof. The water tank supplies the facets and toilets so that gravity gives the water pressure and maybe you’ll get a decent shower. Usually the pumping takes a half hour or so.
In the evening I leave the compound to meet some friends for dinner and drinks. The guard has turned the water pump on and sits nearby waiting for the tank to fill. He will know it is full when the water pours out the top of the tank.
I come back almost four hours later. The guard is still sitting there and the pump is still on.
‘Has this been on the whole time?’
‘Yes but it does not fill,’ he says.
I go to the pipes and I review the setup. I turn the lever that opens the valve to permit water from the city pipes to enter the pump. The sound changes from an airy sucking to a watery sloshing.
‘When it goes for so long and does not fill, there is a problem,’ I say.
I demonstrate the turning of the lever to open the value.
‘This must be like this,’ I say. ‘You hear the difference in the sounds?’
He clicks with his mouth and I open the valve and close it a couple more times to be sure he hears and sees the difference.
‘Now it will fill and you will turn off the pump when it overflows from the top.’
‘It is understood,’ he says and I slap him on the back of he shoulder.