Imagine not having electricity during at least 12 hours of the day, every day. Think about how you cannot buy groceries that need refrigeration in large amounts because, of course, you’ll have no electricity. Now picture what would you do if you could not use the computer, play a videogame, watch TV or listen to the radio the whole night. It sounds awful, doesn’t it?
Watching the video “The Danger of a Single Story” by African novelist Chimamanda Adichie, made me think a lot about how people from developing countries, like myself, are perceived by people from developed countries. That’s why I decided to write this post about how one of those “struggles” was not really a big problem for me growing up. After all, you cannot feel deprived if you’ve never experienced anything different, right?
That’s how having power outages in the Dominican Republic for as long as I can remember, became part of an awaited routine my family had. Every night when the outage happened, we’d get out of the house quickly because the heat was unbearable without a fan. S o, we either climbed up a shaky wood ladder and go to the roof1 of the house with a couple of area rugs and pillows or just stayed in the front porch without being able to actually see each other’s faces.
Once we were out, we would start singing ballads from Latin American singers of the time, or recite popular poetry to entertain ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, power outages are a serious problem in the Dominican Republic, and they have shaped the way people live to this day. But, as a child, I really enjoyed those nights in which we all were together listening to my grandma tell stories of her small southern town, giving us riddles to decipher, or reciting popular poetry.
Looking back, I think that’s where my love for stories comes from, since reading wasn’t big in my family. Consequently, having no electricity had a positive influence in my life; even when the outage happened in the middle of my favorite cartoon and I felt disappointed, it helped me explore and use my imagination with the limited toys I had.
Therefore, stirring away from trying to make this a sugar-coated account of a serious issue my country deals with, and specially since it’s not the only version, I can say this is one of the many stories the people of my generation can tell about growing up in a poor neighborhood without electricity.
Being poor and from a developing country is often seen as being sad. However, having being one of those children I can say that’s not what I remember. And that’s my story of having no power, at least one of them, the positive one, seen through the eyes of a child. Not as terrifying as it seem in the first paragraph, is it?
1 We were lucky enough to have a concrete roof, as opposed of tin, which is more affordable and common in poor neighborhoods in the D.R.