Living in a developing country means that the lights going out is just another element of our daily lives. Not that it happens daily. In fact the occurrence of the lights going out varies quite drastically depending on the area you live in, the time of year, the crime level (cable theft, yes like they steal the actual copper cable), the political climate with the state-owned energy producer and sometimes even the demographic of the people living in a particular area. In my area, we can go months without any incidents or outages and then all of a sudden it could be weekly occurrence. Many households have made provision for this by introducing energy-saving techniques to avoid outages including solar geysers, gas heating, gas stoves and solar or led rechargeable lighting for when the lights go out. Also note, this is a problem for privileged households that have access to electricity in the first place, many people from poorer communities don’t have any electricity to begin with and our contingency plans of candles is their reality. Alhamdulillah for my problems.
In my house, as soon as the lights go out, panic strikes. Well firstly, I have a few little boys who have some issues with the dark. When all the lights go out all of a sudden it is very quiet and very dark. This is quite a sudden change for the human body to process. Your brain quickly determines there is a problem. Sometimes the change from light to dark makes sparkly bits show up in front of your eyes. Once your eyes adjust, its kind of ok again and because its your house so you can navigate through quite easily.
My husband and I would immediately be thinking where are the boys, and then where are the candles and flashlights. Then the obvious next check is, How much battery life does each of the devices have? Some speculation ensues about how long the outage will last. With the boys the immediate reaction is to find safety. Calls from where ever they are in the house, will be heard. “Mom.. Mom…. Dad… Dad…” and if we take to too long to respond there’s like this combination call “Momdad… Momdad”.
So we calmly say stay where you are we will come to you. If they are separated it’s worse because then we have to go to two or three different locations around the house, collect them and then get everyone in a central place to figure out what’s next. When they are together there is less shouting as at least one of them would have been on a device and then they would use the flashlight from the phone or iPad to navigate to us, as a group. If it’s raining one or more will cling to us in fear, as we finish up around the house so we can all huddle in one place. On a school night the best thing is to have a quick story by flashlight and then off to bed. On the weekend or during school holiday’s we might try … “Ok guys, bedtime” but it rarely works so we all cuddle in my bed and tell stories or play games by candle light / flashlight – this is awesome time actually as it is filled with conversation, giggles and NO distractions.
This time when the lights went out, thankfully after supper so didn’t have that problem, the boys decided that we should play hide and seek in the dark … They were all brave in this suggestion, as like I have stated earlier they are a tad bit afraid of the dark. This game involves someone being the seeker and the others hiding. The seeker closes their eyes counts an agreed number, in an agreed spot, known as ‘house’ or ‘home base’, this can be a wall or door or the couch where mom is sitting. Once the counting is done he will say “Ready or not here I come”. When the seeker find’s someone he will return to ‘home’ and say “One, two, three block < shouts persons name>”, if the person gets to home before the seeker they will say “One, two, three block myself”.
When the game commenced we had a fire going in the main living area but the minute you hid away from this area you could not be seen even in open spaces. This added excitement and tension to the game. Screams filled the house as someone either reached the home base and shouted out their safety slogan or got caught. To add to the excitement Dad jump in as a monster seeker and this is when things got really crazy, eventually at the last round they all tried to hide behind the couch where I was, out of fear for being anywhere else in the house 🙂 Despite the fear factor they all thoroughly enjoyed this and one actually proclaimed “This is the best day ever!” ❤
Eventually, the realization sets in that the wifi is out, so if I was planning to work at night or catch up on Netflix that’s out of the window. And then I realise I can’t boil the kettle for that last cup of tea *sad face*. Most of all it’s if the lights are not back by morning, I know it’s going to be a cold shower, no coffee and limited options for breakfast for everyone…
No need to fret though they will come back eventually. In most households we can handle blackouts for a limited time, we have experienced it enough, to have a few contingency plans. Still, we are so reliant on that kettle to boil water for tea or a shower to be warm and welcoming. The connection to the outside world for information and entertainment. I wonder how will we ever survive without our amenities, if we ever really have to.
For now the lights going out, is a variation on the routine, encourages us to be resilient and actually creates some quality family time. Even in dark time there is always light. The light we expect to have and so desperately rely on is not always the light we actually need.