When I was a child of five, my favorite time of the year was the rainy season. Since I was born in the tropics, we only had two seasons, rainy and dry. That didn’t mean that during the dry season there was no rain. It just meant that it didn’t rain every single day for weeks. Living in between the mountains and the coast of the Pacific Ocean meant that rain was the one consistent thing we could count on any old day of the year.
Because of the rain, we got fresh drinking water. I remember the huge covered rain barrel my grandfather kept in a corner of the kitchen near the back door. Any time there was a deluge (almost every afternoon during the rainy season), he would take out a bamboo construction that he had made and, through an ingenious use of the hollow bamboo pipes leading to the barrel, he would catch the rain coming down. That barrel was always full of water and that was what we drank out of because my grandfather didn’t trust the water coming out of the pipes.
Because of the rain, I remember the partially-covered patio off the kitchen backyard. Its roof was covered with some type of green fiberglass corrugated material which made a cool rat-a-tat-tat sound when the rain came beating down on it. I also remember the scent of the wet splayed leaves on the banana trees which made up the one open wall of the patio and the dark earth where they rooted themselves into. I remember the bright pinks and reds of the crushed fuchsias and bougainvilleas which blew into the open patio doorway and dropped onto the grey tiled floor.
Because of the rain, the sun would be nowhere in sight, and even though it might be early afternoon, the sky would be slate grey. On the side table next to the hardwood divan, my grandfather would leave a small lit oil lamp. Its tiny flame would cast a warm aurora in a comforting sphere all around me. The oil lamp was important because I did not like the encroaching darkness. When there is no light at all, I can only shut my eyes and dream of sun-drenched playgrounds. However, in that half-twilight grey of no sun and no darkness, all things take on strange grotesque forms which cause my bumps to goose and my geese to bump.
Yes, even as a child, I had quite the imagination, and this imagination never left me. All through my formative years, it helped me through many sticky situations when imagination was the only thing that differentiated between the wide range of possible right and wrong answers, for without imagining the end results, there was no way for me to sense what the best solution would be. It stayed with me and grew up with me and clung onto me like an old worn cape which kept me warm and allowed my associative mind to connect it to all the images, scents, and sounds which collectively made up the person that I am today. Without that associative old imagination cloak, I would be an amnesiac, unable to remember my experiences via all those trigger points, and unable to embellish upon it, my essence of the truth.
And all because of the rain…