Even though I grew up in a village, I am really thankful that we always had modern toilets at home, complete with water closets and flushing system. Because dad was a draughtsman who knew about architecture and engineering, he built us a nice modern house in the early 1960s.
A typical village toilet in the early days was a tiny shed somewhere far away in the backyard with a hole in the ground. If you’re lucky enough to live near a river or stream, the wooden hut would be erected on stilts above the stream, with a hole cut-out on the timber floor.
For most village folks, night visits to the toilet posed the biggest challenge. I remember one tragic incident whereby a light aircraft crashed into a village toilet, killing the unfortunate man who was emptying his bowels.
My friend who lived near the shops had the pan latrine type of toilets. She remembers how she would see the laden metal bucket disappear right under her when the soil collectors came along and a clean one reappear the next moment. She would be holding her breath the entire time, turning blue, until the commotion was over.
The public toilets near the market were the most appalling. There were rows and rows of foul smelling latrines, I would stop breathing whenever I walked past any communal toilets when I was little.
Till now, I find it hard to imagine that in the early years, human waste was collected in buckets by night-soil collectors every night from homes. From night soil collectors to automatic flushing toilets, we have definitely undergone a remarkable revolution.
I think it’s one of the best inventions!