Chapter 17: The water tank
At the bush camp which was situated on someones farm, I do not know who except it was not owned by anyone in our immediate family, was where the group meetings of the region would occur. It would always be for a weekend minimum as some travelled two or three hours to get there, in those days that was a far trip I guess. It was located at the foot of a small hill in an area that years of visiting had made bare a circle of dust where the meets would occur. Leading up from the circle was a path that crisscrossed up the small side of the hill just once, first going up to the right and then crossing the length of the hill to the left. On the top of the hill in the far left side, at it’s point so to speak was a water tower. A corregrated iron water tower, painted red. The paint was peeling. Years later someone painted it green, that was when I must of been around 10 maybe 11 years. But it started out as red and peeling. Just behind it was a wooden fence that was a large grazing area for cattle on the hilltop. It was pretty desolate. I assume the owners were part of the cult, but I honesty do not know who owned it so I cannot say for sure. But since it was a place that was always frequented, logic would say that the cult had access to use the land for some reason, and guaranteed it was because it was owned by one of theirs.
The water tower. Stood maybe two or three meters off the ground. Not very high. It wasn’t closed either. Or at least not when we were there. The water level was never full, but year after year it always seemed to be the perfect height for their purpose. It was M who always walked me up to the tower. Late afternoon as the sun was just about to set. She would climb the ladder behind me up to the very little ledge that was enough space for just one person to stand next to the ladder. Taking me by my wrist she would lower me into the water tank. It was always full enough so that you had to stand on your tip toes to have your face out the water. And the sides were too high that you could climb out without someone pulling you out. If there was a ladder meant to be inside, it was not there when we were there.
And there she would leave me. On my tip-toes in the water tower, with the sun setting. She always came back to fetch you though. In the morning. When the sun rose. Never before.
All night you had to stand balancing. With what I am certain was fish that swam in the tank brushing up near you occassionally against you. All night.
I hated her for putting me there. And I loved her for rescuing me from it.
That was the water tower.
Never was a word spoken, not on the way up the hill, not at the water tower, not on the way down. But then, things like this never were spoken about, there was this silent law that forbad such talk. You knew better than to question why they did what they did. Questioning meant punishment. And there was always a punishment worse that the act questioned.