The storm here

We had a storm here in da cuse, thunder raging and rain pouring donkeys for a whole day and night, I just found myself sitting still and watching the rain.

I realized back home when it rained heavily, I enjoyed listening to the rain and my favorite time was sleep time, when I’d lay down and have my ears to the patter patter sound. It was soft from my safe and comfort bed, but outside, man, it was, well, stormy. However, if there was hail, it meant I’d sneak out of the house to collect it and got a kick drinking ice on my hands. It melted fast and turned into icy water, refreshing, which was a rare but wonderful treat on a hot day in a home with no refrigerator. I’ve lost recollection of my first time when I actually had real ice—frozen cubes with water or juice. But I remember it was at the home of my uncle in Kampala who I visited with my parents one holiday season. Everything at my uncle’s had a magical feel. And by everything I really mean ordinary stuff typical of an urban setting that we didn’t have upcountry.

Years later when I started working, I didn’t buy a fridge with my first salary because there were other important things to buy first; like a really good mattress, a proper bed, beddings I wouldn’t be ashamed of, rent, of course, utilities, and when I took off both the small and big things I needed to pay for, there was no more money left to buy a small fridge. But I was happy, over the moon, in fact, to wake up each day and go to work, to count the days of the month, to receive my paycheck, and to finally have a bank account in a proper bank. So the fridge stayed on the needs list for a long time, until one day I received good news that my sister and her husband wanted to purchase a bigger fridge for their home and were selling the little fridge they had. Was I interested? It cost me 100,000shs, and boy, how I loved that little fridge. That night it came home I couldn’t sleep. I woke up several times just to open its door, check inside, hear it humming softly, and of course, pour myself a cold glass of water. For the next six months I was happy because of that little fridge. I don’t remember having any problem, it’s like all my trials were over. I still have that little fridge, it still works perfectly and it’s with a friend now. When I think of it I see good, humble times. Happy times. My first car didn’t give me as much a thrill as that fridge, yet it was a very good car. Years later when my jobs changed for better and there were promotions and privileges, I got excited of course, but the buoyant liberating feeling of my first little fridge has remained unequaled. I’ve known happiness and beauty, desires fulfilled, but the joy I got from that fridge ranks high. Maybe because it wasn’t just a fridge but one that came with associations of rain, hail, a happy childhood and a realization of I can.

So heavy rain, which is frequent when you live right on the equator, ice-cold water, hail and ice cubes became like my special friends. Imagine my disappointment yesterday, today, and last night when it rained heavily and I didn’t feel my usual joyous fridge feeling. It was harder falling asleep—2.30am, and by 4am I gave up. Dawn found me kind of scared, wondering if the rain would bring down the trees around my house, hitting the house in their fall, and suddenly finding myself a victim of the storm. Little fridge memories and good ice times remained far away, and I realized that heavy rain here means something else. It’s worse watching the storm and reading news of Pakistan flooding, wondering what’s going to happen to the millions of uprooted folks. When finally the storm subsided, I checked outside and saw a dry tree had fallen close to the house but not near the window where I sat. I gave thanks, counted it a mercy and decided to wash my hair like I was washing away the storm, the memories of this storm, and accepting the change that my little fridge with ice water and all the feelings that came with it are tucked away in my country and would not be liberating me and bringing me happiness anymore. It’s hard letting go of a happy memory and embracing a fearsome one.

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