The house ran out of cooking gas this morning as I was heating water for my morning bath.
I have been dreading this day for a long time, and two days ago, as I entered my last month here, I started to believe I could get to the end without the cylinder running out of gas.
I was wrong.
The problem here is the unique in-between-ness of this location. If I was in a city or a moderate sized town, getting a replacement gas cylinder or filling this one up would be easy.
If I was in a real village, I wouldn’t even have a gas cylinder in the first place. I would have built my life around a steady supply of firewood and kerosene.
But here, between town and village, the little luxuries exist, but just out of reach. Like, it is not that you can’t get ice cream, it is that you can only get ice cream from one place in the next town and they have frozen ice cream about once in three weeks. And there isn’t any other place in a two hour radius where you can get ice cream.
The same goes for the gas cylinder. To replace this cylinder, I would have to carry it (on my head?) for about thirty minutes, get a taxi to the next town, then take a bike to the place that might be filling up gas cylinders if they are operational that day.
The whole thing should take about three hours, and I may or may not end up with gas.
So rather than struggle with figuring out how to replace the cylinder, or switching to a stove and battling the long lines for kerosene, I have decided to do nothing and tough it out for the remaining four weeks.
I know I am the wrong person to be suggesting this, because I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I have never mouthed the phrase “tough it out” in my regular life.
When people who seriously work out say, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body” I say, “fuck that, let my weakness stay put inside my body.”
Or when they say, “No pain, no gain.” I ask, “what about profit?” It is a perfectly acceptable synonym that doesn’t rhyme with pain.
That’s why all of my exercising involves simple stretches that can be done in bed.
Things have always come easy for me, I do not “tough it out.”
But, for the next month, all my baths will be cold baths and all my meals cold meals.
Hot tea? Forget it. Breakfast in the morning? Bread and cold milk. A quick noodle dinner? Not anymore. Dinner will be cereal, chips and biscuits. I will get a hot meal in the afternoons at work and that will be it.
And as for the showers, I read somewhere that if you stick with anything for 21 days, it becomes a habit. While I’m sure that works for a few things, I am convinced there are certain things the human body can never get accustomed to.
Highest on that list is cold showers.
You can take cold showers for years, the instant someone tells you a story about a hot bath, a lump will rise in your throat and tears will well up in your eyes. That story will be as heart-warming to you as the story of an orphan who finds love and a new home.
Many people go away to war, return to their normal lives and have trouble sleeping through the night or sleeping in normal soft beds.
Many more people go away to universities, and get used to eating junk food, quick fix meals. And when they return to their normal lives, they still crave the fast foods.
But I have never heard anyone say, “Ever since I returned from my tour in Iraq, I haven’t been able to take a hot shower. I’m just not used to them anymore.”
Never. Has never happened. It’s just one of those things, I guess.
I will probably die of hypothermia before the month is over.