This was where it happened. Right here. I stood in the middle of a university road, running between the tennis courts and a little green study park. I was on my way to work, I had twenty minutes until my coach departed for the university's new campus, far to the east of Zhengzhou.
|A group of students send a message of love to an embarrassed girl at Henan Agricultural University. Just around the corner from where this story took place.|
A sudden pulse of spice overwhelmed my bowels. I knew what was happening, I'd felt similar pluses before. Burning, painful bulges in the guts like a a great reservoir being held back by a wobbly circular dam, a dam which could not hold out for long. Certainly not for an hours coach ride.
I ran into the nearest building. Surely every building would have a toilet. Nothing on the first floor. I ran up the stairs to find nothing but laboratories. I guess scientists never got the squits.
I ran back out but there where no other open doors in sight. I ran to the north gate of the university, near to where the coach would leave in just over fifteen minutes. I ran up the stairs of the Chinese Corn Research Centre, a sixteen story block that dominates the Henan Agricultural University. Locked! Everything locked. It wasn't even seven A.M. Yet, of course it would all be locked up. Opposite the research centre was a little noodle bar, maybe they had a toilet? It was worth a try.
|The Corn Research Building dominating the North Gate of Henan Agricultural University|
I sprinted across the square and burst into the noodle bar.
“Yo mei yo ce suo?” (Is there a toilet in here?) My voice was raised in desperation.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaeer?” Chinese for huh?
I repeated my question again and again to the staff dishing out noodles, much to their amusement. I couldn’t stand still. If I did, it would come out. I hopped from one leg to another clutching my gut.
“Mei yo”. They finally said. (No bogs here, now bog off!)
“What? Really? There has to be, it's a restaurant!”
“Really, Mei yo!” They repeated.
I asked a student where I might find one, she just laughed and pointed outside. Fat lot of help she was.
I ran back out, annoyed at having wasted a valuable minute and ran into a much larger canteen.
“Where's the toilet?” I shouted in Chinese to no particular person.
A student shrugged her shoulders and continued with her breakfast while a few others daren't even look at me (a real novelty for a foreigner in China). A nice old cleaning lady came to my assistance.
I followed as she led me out of the canteen, around the corner into another, red bricked building and pointed left down the corridor. I thanked her and ran as fast as I could. At the end of the corridor was an old men's room with four urinals on one side and a long narrow hole stretching the length of the room on the other. Four dividing walls ran above the hole creating five door less, three foot high cubicles.
There was no one else there, thank god. I put my bag down on the floor next to my open cubicle. My brain had seen the pit and recognised it as a toilet. My bowels were moving. I clenched to keep the reservoir dammed. The pain was intense and I struggled to find my toilet roll, an essential for anyone in China. Rummaging desperately for what seemed like an eternity yielded results, fresh white tissue. I squatted sideways over the long running hole and opened the floodgates. I was praying for my solitude to continue. The diarrhoea was hot and like water, but like the Amazon it was brown and didn't seem like it would ever stop.
“Ni shi na ge guo jia de?”
I turned my head to see a middle aged Chinese man, eyes and mouth wide open gawking at me mid flow.
He repeated his question “Which country do you come from?”
It was a question I was quite used to here in Henan. Usually I would have happily told him about my nationality but here, now? Couldn’t he see I was busy? Clearly, he could see everything, the great brown waterfall was streaming out of me as he stared.
Then another man came in and began joking with the first. Pointing at me and laughing. They began asking me more questions.
“Please don't look at me, please don't talk to me I am shitting.” I said with my rudimentary Madarin.
|A Chinese public squat toilet with little privacy. A great place for a chat.|
They looked so disappointed and finished peeing in silence. As my bowels were finally finished evacuating they bid me farewell and went on their way.
As I began to wipe I my phone began to ring. I missed the call but I knew what it was about. I had only a few minutes left. My coach was about to leave. I pulled my trousers back up, washed my hands and bolted. The phone in my pocket was buzzing but there was no time to answer. The bus wasn't going to wait for me, it never did. As I got back to the north gate I could see it start to leave. I sprinted past an ill mannered security guard, ignoring his efforts to block me and force me through the other gate and slammed into the departing bus. The driver opened the door for me and I got on.
“What happened to you?” Asked an indifferent Dutchman.