I’m not even entirely sure where the ‘watch your water’ Tatooine thing comes from, but it’s struck me that the way I’ve been using it in a couple fics - an admonition Anakin takes to mean ‘don’t cry’ - makes more sense than I initially thought, back when my literalist brain made the leap from water to tears writing Watch Your Water.
To cry is to reveal human feeling, pain, displeasure. And Anakin grew up a slave, bound to the will and pleasure of some other figure. He would not have been expected to reveal sadness, complain, or admit to suffering. It would likely have been grounds for punishment. Tears from one born in chains are a crime.
An environment like Tatooine demands that water be carefully rationed. Did that become a code among the slaves, a necessity of life on that planet twisted to reflect a necessity of their lives in a way that their masters didn’t notice?
Not that the masters didn’t. When slave after whipped slave can only mutter ‘watch your water’ through clenched teeth as they take their punishment in something close to silence, the code does not stay secret long.
Perhaps, to the masters, it doesn’t matter. If their slaves watch their water, they’re less likely to die in Tatooine’s dry sandscape. Who cares whether that water is tears or the produce of moisture farms. If the slaves watch their water, the master has less to worry about.
The line between the figurative and the literal is, at times, so very, very thin.