Nuan’s home, the house I live in, is on the edge of the village. The only building beyond it a small church, red in colour and used only once a week for a few hours on a Sunday. You would not know it was a church to look at it. A plain building, with no adornments of any kind.
Our house is set back from the road. It has white walls and a bright blue, overhanging roof made of corrugated iron sheets, stapled together. It has four rooms. Two bedrooms with a huge double mattress in each one but nothing else. I get the luxury of one to myself, whilst the rest of the family sleep in the other. A bathroom, which consists of a ceramic squat loo in one corner and a huge tank of water in another for washing with. There is a small hole in the wall that serves as drainage. There is no running water so instead the tank is filled up from the outdoor tanks via a hosepipe. In one of the two tanks outside there were living two huge freshwater crabs. Although they didn’t last long. Lipo ate them a week or so ago.
The main room of the house is a strange shape. Two rectangles joined together along their long sides but shoved out of line. As you walk in the front door there is a huge wooden table with stools set around it. The stools are made from a single piece of wood, carved from the trunks of trees. A flat screen TV and a stereo system sit on another huge table. There are no chairs, just a collection of cushions and blankets on the floor which are arranged each evening on the tiled floor to lie on. It is from here that the TV is watched.
There are a few cupboards and plastic chests of drawers dotted around the room in which all the familys’ clothes are kept. Everybody (except me) washes and then gets changed into fresh clothes behind the modesty of a towel in the main room.
In the far corner there is a sink, also with no running water and a sideboard which houses a rice cooker and a hot water heater. Everything else is cooked outside on a stove. Wood is collected from nearby, sawn up using a hand saw and then chopped smaller with an old axe. It is scary to watch them chop the wood, holding each piece in place with their sandalled foot while they bring the axe down to split it. I cannot help but be nervous that they will split their foot at the same time, but who am I to worry when they have done this their whole lives?
The garden is more like a dirt yard with a few trees and shrubs planted around the edge. It is home to chickens and most recently, the puppies that appeared one morning. I have since discovered they are here to stay, strays found on the side of the road now adopted by families in the village. I am yet to find out who eats the rats though.