THE FIRST RAINS

Dark clouds. They come, they go. Casting moving shadows over the thirsty earth. Will it rain today?

Overcast skies. The sun is missing. Everything is still.

The beginning of a breeze. Leaves begin to tremble. The curtains are waving. Gently.

A strong wind blowing. Trees trace arcs against my window. A bed sheet flies off someone’s clothesline. Worried drivers hurry to drape cars. Women clutch their dupattas. And look up at the sky.

Dust storm. Bits of refuse whirling in the air. Boys stop playing cricket. People hurry home with scrunched eyes and clamped lips. I feel the sting of a thousand grains of sand on the back of my legs.

I can smell the rains now.

Change into non-white shorts. Take lift to twelfth floor terrace. Climb rusty metal stairs to top of water tankie.

Find good company. Two pretty foreign girls already there.

Smile. Say hello. Plonk self down some steps away.

It is six. Looks like eight. Lie down on back. Close eyes.

Waiting for the rains.

Thunder. Shaken awake. The girls are giggling in anticipation. Another clap. An answering roar from the band of boys far below.

Other buildings. Other terraces. Other people. Impatience.

A bolt of lightning in the northern sky. The scream of a child’s terror. A moment of calm.

Then the first drops.

Mind blank. Mouth open. Arms outstretched. On my feet. Rejoicing.

Heaven opens its doors. The patter of a million drops. Streaming down buildings. My forehead. My nose. Into my mouth.

Feeling my clothes grow heavier. Shivering.

The rumble of invisible airplanes lost in the clouds. Motionless figures. Dancing figures. Figures in windows. Figures in raincoats. Figures from memory. Watching the rain.

The lights of a city come on.

The foreigners are long gone. The cement below me is slippery. The wind hurls bullets of fury at my body. I fear electrocution.

The rains are scary. Almost.

Thinking of the warm bath awaiting me. Hungry for a hot dinner. Realising there will be four whole months of days like this.

Smiling.

The rains are here!

* * *

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