Bookworm Chronicles #2: STEALING WATER

What are you feeding your mind these days?

Just how lucky are we to have all these little comforts and excesses around us to enjoy on a whim? Regular trips to the cinema, expensive meals, ostentatious clothes and accessories, flashy cars – things that sometimes we tend to ignore because, well, we have never experienced deprivation. Or hunger. Or living in constant fear of being hunted down by creditors and loan sharks we are heavily indebted to.

But this guy, Tim Ecott, a one-time army brat, has had it rough in South Africa (where they moved from a middle-class living in Ireland) where and when his family experienced a mad reversal of fortunes and became so poor they had to literally resort to stealing water from their neighbors at one point.

To keep the family afloat, especially after being kicked out, very publicly, from their home, Tim’s enterprising Irish mother started selling junk from a small shop in an almost inconspicuous arcade in downtown Johannesburg. Meanwhile, his Welsh-English ex-army-officer father failed at everything he tried. This little junkshop is also the setting where some very interesting, colorful, and sometimes mental/criminal characters make regular trips to see and be seen. In fact, you will meet all of them at the beginning of the memoir.

Before moving to South Africa, Tim’s mother was drowning in the weight of domesticity and was described as oftentimes taking a cocktail of anti-depressants as her way of escaping the drudgery of life. But amazingly, in South Africa, she was transformed into a multitasking mom slash small-time trader who won’t stop at nothing to earn a little bit more for the family.

Reading the book I often had to stop and think if everything that Ecott was describing were ever real. Some of the scenes were pretty painful to remember, let alone write about – if I were in his shoes. Growing up and even until today, I have lived a very simple life – punctuated only occasionally by my colorful pairs of shoes, surpassed only by my superlatively colorful (mis)adventures.Sure I have had my moments of pained imaginings of a life that can only be described as rolling around in filthy money –  but that is just me feeling bad sometimes that I am not in any position to build homes for and feed the abandoned elderly and babies in the streets.

A few times I had to blink back fat tears threatening to spill over especially when Ecott’s being ever so descriptive of his mother, Pamela, who has a tendency to scorn fate and probability, all the while bravely carrying the full weight of her family’s string of misfortunes and debts on her shoulders. In a way, she kind of reminded me of my adoptive Mom.

How about you Loves? Anything interesting on your bedside table?


  1. lleuvelyn · August 19, 2011

    Hi loves, I’m reading Einstein’s Enigma ^_^ should be done in a week….and then back again to those bloody marketing, branding books hehehe

    • vickyras · August 26, 2011

      Ola! Is it a good read? Maybe I should check it out, too, one of these days. So many books, so little time!:)

  2. Chris Kelley · August 25, 2011

    Always important to appreciate how good we have it. It’s a good book that makes you think about stuff like this. I’m re-reading “Mosquito Coast” by Paul Theroux.

    • vickyras · August 26, 2011

      Hi Chris! Would you recommend Mosquito Coast? I picked up a new book last week but I haven’t started reading yet. I will get right on it this weekend. It’s ‘Song Yet Sung’ by James McBride.

      • Chris Kelley · August 29, 2011

        Oh yeah, I’d strongly recommend it. How do you have time for reading with everything else going on?

      • vickyras · August 30, 2011

        I usually read before bedtime. I have to ‘ coz sometimes I feel dumbed-down and out of touch.:D Just like running, it’s a commitment i’m bent on keeping.:)

  3. tim · November 16, 2011

    hello vicky, thanks for your review of ‘Stealing Water’ – i am glad you found it moving. And, yes, it was at times painful to write – but it was defintiely all true!
    best wishes,
    tim ecott

    • vickyras · November 16, 2011

      ZOMG! Are you really Tim Ecott?!? *faints* I’m NOT usually this overly dramatic but ZOMG again! Please tell your Mom when you speak with her again in your nightly prayers that I think she’s an amazing woman. She reminded me of my adoptive mother – both of them have this self-branded grit I wish I have at least half of. Thank you Tim, for your comment. You just made my day even brighter! And you know what? When I set foot in South Africa – and I very much intend to in the near future – I will remember every bit of your narrative. 🙂

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