Fujian Province, CHINA – Assembled and standing next to each other, we could see the large drops of sweat trickling down along our temples, and smell the pungent odor coming from our exhausted bodies.
It was military camp, and we needed a shower.
We had towels, bottles of shampoo as well an exquisite comb clutched to our chests while anxiously waiting for our turn under the water.
The rules in the military camp dictated that students instantly obey every order sent by the leaders.
There were strict commands over dining in the canteens – how we walked, ran or talked.
Even the activities during the time we were spared to ourselves were highly limited – no singing, no dancing, no loud conversations on silly topics.
But the most unbearable challenge was that in the entire 20 days, we were only allowed showers two to three times.
So just imagine how excited we were when the time for a shower finally came – and how surprised we were when the leader declared that only 40 nozzles were available.
That meant that five or six girls had to share one nozzle together.
Then we suddenly got pale at another announcement – no more than 10 minutes were given for the shower, since the water was supposed to run out of supply after a certain time.
The wind blew strongly and it began to rain out of the blue. The crowd started to panic as the clock ticked on.
All eyes were on the leader, who had the final say over when we could have our turn.
As soon as the very last student hurried out of the shower room in the previous team, everyone bolted.
We were like the arrow on the bow that sprang off immediately after the permission was given. All of us squeezed through the narrow doors and pressed against each other. Some small girls were immediately cast off and left behind. We tried to finish everything at full tilt.
We slipped off our green uniforms, and rushed randomly to occupy any nozzle within sight. We turned on the tap and indulged ourselves in the water, relishing the rare comfort that flowed towards us.
Even though our showers might not have been as lovely as the ones we took at home, still, we felt happiness casting over every pore.
It felt so right to be here with all of our friends, to taste what it was like to compete against time and space, to withstand the toughness of military camp and to be disciplined. Camp even helped us clear up the bad habits we had at home so that we could arrange everything more properly and orderly.
We ended our showers just seconds before the water supply was cut off. Wrapped in towels, we rapidly dressed ourselves back in the uniform once again.
No more sweat drops, no more nasty stains. We left refreshed, with only a funny memory worth joking about.
Zhu Qin Zhe is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.