CREATIVE NONFICTION : The value of a sip of water by Ramya Palakodety
It was in the capital city of Seoul back in 2005, I realized the importance of water. As a 14 year old girl excited to tour Seoul with my parents, water was the last thing on my mind, okay maybe not water, school was probably the last thing on my mind. I was excited to make memories and recount them to my friends and family back home. After a tiring day touring the impressive Gyeongbokgung palace and Seoul downtown, we returned back to our hotel room as it was getting dark. Our itinerary was packed as we were to spend 3 days in Seoul, Korea before flying back home to India.
Being vegetarians in a country like South Korea back in 2005 was tough, we packed home made food that would last us 3 days. After coming back to our hotel room, we had our packed dinner and then came the time to drink water. My parents brought back one single bottle of water with us as it didn’t occur to them that we are down to the last bottle. We debated on going outside to get another bottle of water but it was already dark by then. Our vocabulary was also limited to “kamsamida”, “anyaseyo” and few other basic words needed to get by. My parents came to the decision that it isn’t safe for us to venture outside for water when we didn’t know the language or the place enough.
We had our dinner and my parents sacrificed their share of water from the bottle for me. You know how they say when you try to take your mind off something, all you can think of is that very thing. Alas, that’s exactly what happened to me. Back then, there were no mobile phones to distract ourselves and turning on the TV was pointless as we didn’t understand anything. I kept thinking if only I could go out and get one bottle of water as I was convinced there was a provision store right around the corner although that wasn’t the case unlike India.
I went to bed waiting for the next morning to lay my hands on the most taken for granted element of nature. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to quench my thirst, looking at the bottle with sleepy eyes to gauge the level of water in the bottle and going back to sleep only after being convinced there was a decent amount in it.
I woke up the next morning very happy, got dressed up with gusto, looking forward to that bottle of water much more than our itinerary planned for the day. We stayed at a bed and breakfast hotel and I couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw that they served water along with breakfast. That was the first I stayed at a bed and breakfast outside India and this concept was new to me in 2005. I remember filling my cup of water from the water filter and drinking it for the first time with a genuine admiration for what it does to humankind. My expression would have been similar to those advertisements showing India female actors taking sips of mango drink out of a bottle. The major difference is that they are acting and I wasn’t.
Now we all know it’s common practice to drink out of the tap abroad, we would have done that the previous night had we completely ran out of water in that bottle. My parents drank a little less than they used to and saved some for me. They also didn’t know how I felt and I didn’t tell them either not wanting to stress them out.
That very small incident in my life changed my outlook on this natural resource that’s the basis for all creation on earth. Scientists say there’s a very high chance the water we are drinking today is the same the dinosaurs gulped 65 million years ago. Isn’t that amazing? As I finish writing this piece at 3:46am in the morning (thanks to night time feeds for my baby), I will reach out for my bottle next to me and drink that water in gratitude.
About the writer :
Ramya works in the field of Information and Cybersecurity and lives in the US. She is an avid reader and a Carnatic vocalist. She shares snippets of her life, book reviews and talks about Cyber-awareness on her Instagram page ramyas_reflections.