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Stabroek News

Water delivery day in Harmons
published: Thursday | May 17, 2007

Lorna Powell said all arguments end after water delivery day. - photos by Norman Grindley/Deputy Chief Photographer

Robert Lalah, Assistant Editor - Features

There is no harmony in Harmons whenever the water truck comes around.

"Gyal, kirout! Memba a me first did deh yah so!" shouted Lillian, a 40-something-year-old woman with a pronounced lisp and surprisingly long toenails. She waved her hands frantically and then kicked Munchie's bucket that was under the pipe being filled. Now Munchie, a loud, fiery woman in her early 20s didn't take kindly to this at all.

"Den wha mek you haffi gwaan like teg-reg? Di whole a wi need di wata so just settle yuhself and wait," Munchie said with a frown.

Lillian and Munchie were only two of a group of women who were gathered around one of two water tanks in the Manchester community.

You see, there is no piped water in Harmons and so every Thursday morning all the residents wait around anxiously for the weekly delivery of water. A single, sputtering old truck makes the delivery about 10 in the morning.

Now with a couple thousand people living in Harmons, you can imagine that things don't always go so smoothly on water delivery day.

"Just try touch mi bucket one more time and is hell and powder house in yah today!" shouted one short woman wearing a T-shirt and slippers to another woman with curlers in her hair.

"Just touch a button and you ago meet yuh Waterloo!" the woman with the curlers responded, adamantly.

Typical scene

Now what surprised me was that no one other than myself seemed worried about what might transpire between Munchie and Lillian or the woman in the T-shirt and her rival. As it turns out, this kind of scene is typical in Harmons on water delivery day.

Well, that's what Lorna Powell told me as she sat at the back of her modest home washing clothes that were in two tubs on the ground in front of her. The sun was in her eyes so she squinted as she looked up at me. She took her left hand out of the water and used it to shade her eyes. A trickle of soapy water ran down to her elbow.

"Is so it go whenever is water delivery day. Pure baddaration! Is every jack man fi himself, mi dear. Is only one time for the week that the truck come so everybody have to do what dem can to get some of it," she said, shaking her head.

A few feet away from where I was standing, an elderly fellow on a bicycle was trying desperately to balance himself and two plastic containers as he rushed to make it to the community tank before all the water was gone.

Malice on delivery day

Whenever the water tanks are replenished, they become the centre of attention in Harmons, Manchester.

"Is nothing serious still. We only keep malice pan delivery day. Otherwise from that everybody in Harmons live good wid each other," she said, chuckling.

I bid the woman farewell and walked over to Lillian who was standing under a nearby tree by herself, cooling off after a heate with Munchie, the community troublemaker, a few minutes earlier.

I asked her to tell me a bit about Harmons.

"Well most people here grow ackee and some potato. Some people keep dem chicken and goat too. Is really a farming community. Everybody do a little of it even if dem do other work," she said.

Lillian explained that residents often sleep with their doors unlocked and are normally out on the streets until all hours of the night without a care in the world.

"Nobody here not going to trouble you. Is only when dem a deliver water then people ketch up wid dem one another. Otherwise from that, not a problenm is in Harmons," she said.

Philbert, a short, dark-skinned man who walked up quite unexpectedly, agreed with Lillian.

"Yes man! Once we get water den everybody nice again. You caan hungry in Harmons, for somebody must have a mango tree or a coconut tree dat you can get something from. Is a cool place up here inna di hills too," he said.

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