‘Half a minute,’ I said, ‘something else is coming up!’
‘The screen is completely blank,’ Sara sneered.
‘No,’ I said, ‘I can definitely see something. Look carefully. I think there’s a woman in a red dress sitting in front of a red wall hung with red pictures and red curtains!’
As Sara peered forward, a notice appeared at the bottom of the red screen saying The Honourable Ms Emery Chimbusu, Minister for Local Government and Toilets. ‘You see!’ I cried in triumph, ‘There is somebody there!’
Sure enough, to prove me right, a set of white teeth appeared in the middle of the red wall, and began speaking. ‘I am pleased to inform you that tomorrow this nation will be taking part in the global commemoration of World Toilet Day.’
‘Poof,’ sneered Sara, ‘this is just a load of sh…’
‘Shush,’ I said. ‘This is a crucial aspect of developing our great nation…’
‘No house is complete,’ began the Honorable Ms Emery Chimbusu, ‘without a toilet. This is a matter on which we must all take action. Do not sit idly in front of your TV this evening. Jump up now, inspect your house and find out if your house has got a toilet!’
‘I’ve always wondered,’ I said to Sara, ‘about that big white vase where we planted the geraniums. Maybe that was supposed to be a toilet?’
‘Surely not,’ Sara laughed, ‘A chimbusu should be flat on the floor, not sitting up like a big flower pot.’
‘It’s a great pity,’ I said, ‘that the Minister didn’t think to illustrate her little talk with some pictures and diagrams, so that we might know what she’s talking about.’
‘If you cannot find a proper toilet in your house,’ the Minister for Toilets announced sternly, ‘this almost certainly means that you have been answering the call of nature in a wrong and unhygienic place. Some negligent and uncaring people are even known to be using plastic bags or cooking oil containers, with a view to emptying the contents over their political opponents and without police permission.’
‘That’s why we need the Public Order Act,’ I said, ‘to prevent all this shit flying around.’
‘That’s why the police have to wear helmets, visors and rubber boots, and hide behind those huge transparent shields,’ said Sara. ‘They have to protect themselves from flying lumps of cholera.’
‘Other furtive defecators,’ explained the Minister, ‘travel long distances to secret places to answer the call of nature, thereby exposing their most tender and vulnerable extremities to the depredation of wild animals, or even worse, to members of the opposition. This is most unhealthy.’
‘I am now beginning to understand why the police have to ban these so-called political rallies,’ I admitted. ‘These unfortunate social misfits are actually large congregations of nomadic crappers, looking for a site where they can unburden themselves, with the unintended consequence of spreading cholera instead of political ideas.
‘But the normal human function of defecation,’ continued the Minister for Toilets, ‘is supposed to be a moment for private reflection rather than public entertainment. That is why, under the government’s privatization policy, each individual householder is encouraged to build their own private facility.’
‘There’s privatization policy for you,’ said Sara. ‘The government won’t build public toilets.’
‘If people get together in public toilets,’ I suggested, ‘they might crap all over the government.’
‘Figures from the 2009 Demographic Toilet Survey,’ continued the minister, ‘indicate that we have only 762 toilets in a population of 13 million people.’
‘And half of those toilets must be in State House!’ I suggested.
‘Why do you think that?’ Sara wondered.
‘Because,’ I said, ‘the ruling class have to endure so many banquets, causing them to visit the toilet ten times a day, or even more frequently after feasts provided by the Indian High Commission. But your average villager, with starvation and constipation, only needs to go twice a year. The villager’s main expense is funerals, not toilets.’
‘We must realize,’ intoned Ms Chimbusu solemnly, ‘that the politics of toilets go back to the very beginning of the demand for social equality, and to the popular rallying cry of the freedom movement, One Man, One Toilet!’
‘She means One Person, One Toilet!’ Sara shouted.
‘Oh no she doesn’t,’ I hooted. ‘She means One Man, Four Wives, Thirty-five Children and One Toilet!’
‘Or Forty Prisoners and One Bucket!’ Sara hissed.
‘So I hereby declare,’ announced Ms Emery Chimbusu, ‘that my government will commemorate World Toilet Day by building a million toilets. The government will make toilet building grants available to all householders and will also expand the sewer system nationwide. In line with our action oriented approach, my government undertakes to complete this programme within ninety days!
‘Furthermore,’ announced Ms Emery, ‘this new National Toilet Initiative will provide a new means for distributing information on government programmes. By tomorrow, a copy of my speech will be hung on the wall of every toilet in the nation.’
‘Emery paper in every toilet!’ laughed Sara. ‘How abrasive! How irritating!’
‘Ha ha!’ I exclaimed, ‘this new programme will immediately be flushed down the toilet! That will make it a first!’
‘No it won’t,’ said Sara. ‘It will make it a fourth!’
‘A fourth?’ I frowned. ‘Which were the others?’
‘First the Manifesto went down the toilet, and after that the Freedom of Information Act. As we speak the Draft Constitution is already going the same way. So the Toilet Initiative will be the fourth!’
‘No, it’s a first!’ I declared, raising my arms in triumph. ‘This is the first time that the toilet has been flushed down the toilet!’