There was an acute water shortage in Jharia during summers. Tankers of water were not available. All of us had municipal water connections but hardly any water. So we opened the connection where the municipal pipe joined urs home ones. This thing is called a chamber. We filled water from the chamber on the ground floor on the road and carried it up to our house on the first floor. Didn t have any plastic buckets only iron ones and for water and to be used for drinking and cooking we had an aluminium bucket. Carrying water up a circular narrow staircase with no railing was quite a task. It was a red cemented staircase with white walls and latticed windows.
For a while we had employed a man called "Guttra" for this job. He used to bunk if he drank a lot of alcohol the previous night. It was a get together of the whole Fatehpur gully. My Gran used to sit down in a chair manning the pipe and the buckets. We all children, mother and Aunt used to fill water. The men of the households didnt help out in this labourious task. They just went about their morning ablutions and off to work. In our house we had about seven big tanks cement ones to fill water. There was a motor to pump up the water. Now people started using a motor directly to the chamber to increase their flow.
The teen girls filled water from the chambers in their colorful petticoats and men s shirts. The petticoat cord was tucked tight and the brother or fathers dirty shirt was worn for the job. It was quite a fad this style with uncombed hair in a bun. We could see all young men walking around aimlessly seeing the chamber maids.
When the water problem was too much, we used to ask Dad for the car to go to his Nani s house. They had a palace like house with lawns, vegetable garden and a well. Mom and Aunt would wash clothes while we children played around. Dad s Mamis would cook a hot fresh meal for all of us. When the clothes dried , it was time to go home.