Water Pump Fix Tomorrow

Sukhdev Kaur

creative partner and reader Lana Citron

Image : USAID Africa Bureau, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

An engineer, my father installed water pumps in the villages and farms around Nairobi, Kenya.

Late one night, hours from home, a wild animal appeared above the pit dug to install the pumps. On the prowl, the animal circled it, trapping the men below. The next morning, thankful to be alive, my father returned to my mother. She, too, had had an eventful night, giving birth to a baby girl. ‘For her I survived,’ he said. That girl was me.

When little, my father took me to business meetings to help him communicate. His English was poor, but intentions clear. He’d say, ‘water, pump, fix, tomorrow.’ Deals were done and hands shaken. His name was Mehar Singh. He lost his mother aged seven. He married aged 12, and left Punjab for Kenya with his father, who came to work on the railways. Mother was sent to join him age sixteen


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