Memories of Rain

“I love the sound of rain.” So goes the first line in the lyrics of a song Reiza is writing. “I forgot the sound of rain,” is my response to it. There’s something about rain and romance. Rain and poetry. Rain and love. And as I sit here with the darkness growing around the room – I’m too lazy to turn on the lights! – I hear the rain falling outside. I see the droplets sliding on the window pane like lazy dancers and it stirs memories of rain. Hmmm, that sounds like a cute title for a story. Memories of Rain.
A watery view of the world. Camera art, pure and simple. 

The first time I experienced rain falling for five days non-stop was in Nepal. And they thought it was very good weather. Mostly because it cooled down the heat. But the people in places like Surkhet live in fear of rain, for mudslides happen every monsoon, and those in the plains live in fear of floods. But unlike in Uganda where a slight drizzle can bring the whole world to a stand still, in Nepal, people simply pulled out their umbrellas and life went on as though there was no rain!

Women shop in Birendranagar, a city in Western Nepal, in spite of the drizzle.
A girl helps her brother go to school through the rain.

Kampala is at its worst after a rain. The floods. The jam. The mud. Oh boy – the mud! One day last year, lured by the promises of basking in the sun on fake beaches with real books, I decided to take Reiza to Ssese Islands. We did not know it had rained in the night until we reached the Old Taxi Park, where we were to get a taxi to Entebbe.

It was wet. The mud squelched under our feet. Reiza had never walked over so much mud. She was so afraid of the mud that she tried to walk on air. The expression on her face gave me an idea of what someone would look like if she were walking on worms. She provided great entertainment to the taxi park fellas, the drivers and conductors and hawkers and idlers, who stopped whatever they were doing and watched in excitement. Some started to bet on whether she would fall, or on whether she would get mud on her feet. One yelled at me, “omwana wo’muzungu musitule” (carry the daughter of a muzungu). The others provided a sound track. They sang in unison to her footfalls, imitating the squelching sound that her feet made as they touched the mud – yshhk yshhk yshhk yshhk – it seemed like the whole taxi park was cheering her as she tiptoed to the Entebbe taxi.

Hold me tight and keep me warm.
Many years back, I was in my final year at Makerere University. I had an umbrella, unlike most students, especially girls who thought it was not cool to carry around a bulky thing like an umbrella. So one day, at the roundabout near Nkrumah (is it a roundabout or just a junction?), anyway on that steep road from Nkrumah to the Main Library, I was rushing to lectures. It was drizzling. I did not realize a girl had joined me until she had her arms around me. We walked in silence, up the steep hill, listening to the sound of the rain falling on the umbrella, and to our breathing as we panted. I felt hot, my pants swell. I knew we would end up in bed, though she was a stranger.

But once we reached the top of the hill, she turned to me with a smile (what a pretty cute thing she was) and off she ran towards the faculty of science. Leaving me stunned. It was as if she had kissed me. But I did not catch her name, or where she was residing – I visited that road at the same hour and day over the next several weeks, hoping I would catch her going to some lecture, but wapi. All I was left with was that smile. Sadly, the years have erased her face and that smile from my memory. All I have is that that silent walk in the rain with a strange girl.

I don’t remember whether it was before this, or after, but I had another encounter with a girl in the rain. I think I was from lectures, because I was walking away from the faculty of Social Sciences, past MDD, towards Nkrumah and kikumi-kikumi, when I met them. A girl and a dog.

They were both wet from the drizzle. At first, I did not notice that there was trouble. The girl was clad in a skimpy dress that exposed much of her flesh. She was not too fat, but had a lot of flesh on her behinds. The dog was a big brute, clearly a wild creature. It looked very hungry.

I then realized that the girl was scared. I don’t know what the dog was up to, but he looked like he was searching for food. He kept running around the girl, panting, baring his big teeth at her, saliva drooling, his starved eyes fixed on the girl’s beefy buttocks – every movement of her made them shake like two slabs of meat.

The girl could not shake the dog off her. When she moved, it moved. When she stopped, it stopped. It didn’t bark. It just kept running around her, panting hungrily, staring at her with bloodthirsty teeth.

Then the girl saw me. And she saw her savior. . Before I realized what was happening, the girl quickly ran and joined me under my umbrella, squeezing her wet body against mine.

At first, the dog seemed to be afraid of me. I walked away and it did not follow us. I could hear the girl’s breathing grow calm. But just when I thought everything was going to be fine, the girl shrieked. She had felt its tail on her legs. The dog had joined us under the umbrella.

In a sudden burst of terror, I ran. I fled from the girl and the dog. But the girl did not let go of my arms. She ran with me, screaming. And the dog chased.

I slipped and fell into a puddle. The girl fell in with me. And the dog barked happily, dancing around us. For a brief moment, I feared it would join us in the pool, and I’m sure it would have if the old, obese woman had not come to our rescue.

She ran out of her car brandishing a big umbrella. “Shoo! Shoo!” she barked at the dog, beating it with the umbrella. “Shoo!” And the dog ran away.

“It’s gone,” the old woman said to us with a big, crocodile smile.  

We scrambled out of the pool. The girl ran away from me. She did not stop to thank the old woman, or me, she just jumped out of the pothole and fled. Leaving me all soaked up in muddy water, my books ruined, and the obese old woman grinning at me and saying something I could not understand.


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