Life, the Cost of Water
Author: Hamideh Shastan
This story sheds light on the water and health crisis that is affecting the lives of Baluch children in Western Baluchistan ( Sistan and Baluchistan-Iran). Baluchistan is an extremely underdeveloped region in Iran where people are faced with daily struggle to access water, a water that is not even suitable for drinking. Adults and sometimes unaccompanied children are forced to walk miles and miles on daily basis to fetch few gallons of water. This is the story of two children from that forgotten corner of the world called Baluchistan.
Here is Baluchistan. Many villages and small cities of Baluchistan have no access to tap water and for drinking and cleaning, people have to draw water from ’’Hutak’’ with a plastic drums. ’’Hutak’’ is a big pit in which water is accumulated.
All living beings need water in order to survive. The mugger crocodile or marsh crocodile is one the animals that live in the pit. Many Baluch children, who approach the pit to drink water or wash, have fallen and are falling prey to these marsh crocodiles.
That day was hot, like the other days and Mahtab and Mahna’s mother sent them to the pit to bring water. Mahtab and Mahna wanted to draw water as fast as they could, so that they can continue playing, but that day was not like the other days. Mahtab and Mahna picked up the drums happily while singing and hasted toward the pit. By the time they arrived at the pit, they were soaking wet.
They wiped the sweat off their forehead with their scarfs and put the drum in the water and waited impatiently for it to fill. Mahna who was the younger sister and was slightly-built, got closer to the pit. When Mahna placed the drum in the water, she felt something sharp ,like a trap had caught her hand and the water turned red. The drum left her hand and disappeared in the dark water.
Mahna screamed of pain and her tears started to fall. Mahtab left her drum and stood behind Mahna and with all her power, she drew her toward herself. The mugger crocodile was strong and its teeth had cut Mahna’s hand like the tightest traps that ever existed, but Mahtab was determined to free her sister.
Finally, Mahtab managed to get her sister’s hand out of the crocodile’s mouth. She carried her sister and with all the power she possessed, and ran away from the pit toward home. The crocodile followed them, but Mahtab was faster and then the crocodile became tired and returned back to the pit.
Blood was bursting out of Mahna’s hand and she was losing consciousness. Mahtab stopped and placed her sister on the ground and tied her hand with her own scarf. Mahna’s hand bled less and Mahtab picked her sister up again and hastily moved toward home. Mahtab was tired and her legs were numb from running.
Finally, she arrived home and called for her mother while panting. When mother saw Mahtab holding Mahna’s blood covered body, she screamed and asked the people of village for help. People came to help and put Mahna in the car along with Mahtab and their mother, and drove toward the hospital. Their village was too far away from the hospital.
After couple of hours, they reached the hospital and for several hours, Mahna was unconscious due to the surgery. Mahtab and her mother were so upset and in distress, that they did not know what to do. After some time, the doctor came and told them that they could not save Mahna’s hand, but she is a live and that she has been asking for them since she gained consciousness.
Mahna’s hand was never the way it used to be and after several surgeries and spending lot of money and visiting doctors, finally they made her a prosthetic hand, but a prosthetic hand can never replace a real hand.
This is not the end of the story as villages in Baluchistan remain without tap water, till this day. Like Mahna, many beloved children of this land fall prey to the crocodiles. Many children get drowned in the pit.
The Iranian government and state do not care about the pain and suffering of Baluch people, nor they care about the development and comfort of the children. The question remains, what can the Baluch people do to save themselves from the lack of water, from drawing water from the pit, from drowning , from the attack of the crocodiles?