It’s the rainy season, and in my few decades on earth, I believe this is the least disturbing one I can remember.
Damages of rain
My earliest recognition of the damage rain could cause was when we lived at the bungalow. The backyard always got waterlogged for a long time before evaporation does its thing. This waterlogging meant that we constructed temporary bridges until the water was dried up. While it took its sweet time drying up, algae took advantage and multiplied, so we ended up having an annoying, algae-filled, temporary lake.
One rainy season, the ‘banks’ overflowed, and we saw water flowing from the backyard to the front yard (or was it the other way?). My parents had us (me and my siblings) stand on the bed and the chairs while they tried to handle the overflow. There was nothing they could do but pray, hope, and wait for the rain to stop falling.
In another season, I was about six or seven and was only trying to be a loving big sister. It was raining, and we (my younger sister and I) needed to get to the living room from the kitchen. At the bungalow, while we had our compound, the house was not built as a unit. The rooms were inside, while the kitchen and the bathroom were without (imagine the many fears we faced as kids when we needed to go to the bathroom at night or needed to get something from the kitchen).
So, I decided that I could carry my sister and hurry to the living room so that we wouldn’t get so wet. I reasoned that since she was a toddler, her steps would be slow if allowed to walk on her own. I lifted her, and halfway through the journey, I slid. She hit her head on the cemented floor, and I dashed my lips somewhere I do not know. The thud of our fall, followed by our cries, attracted everyone. We survived without any lasting damage.
The most traumatic of my negative rainy season experiences is one I would never forget as long as I live, except, of course, I get amnesia. This was in another apartment, years and years after we have moved from the bungalow.
It was like every other rainy season until the wind blew off the roof and the rain came down into our house. The damaged roof broke our ceiling, draining in the rainwater mixed with decades of dust into our apartment. I don’t think I have ever felt such a wave of helplessness and dismay, as I did then, again. I hope not to.
The day it happened, after getting over the shock and employing damage control as much as was possible, we let the landlady know, and she promised to fix it. However, it was the rainy season meaning the rain came down whenever it thought it should, whether we were ready or not.
For every day that passed without the roof getting fixed, my heart filled with terror. I was the oldest child at home, my mother is no longer a young woman, and so, seeing rain pour into what was supposed to be our living room had me so downcast. I had dealt with broken windows, using nylons and sellotape, but how do I fix a leaking, no, not leaking, pouring roof?
When I went to work, I prayed that God would hold the rain. Many times the rains refused to be held, some other times they managed to behave, but until that roof was fixed, which took about a month, I was a nervous wreck.
I almost hate that period of my life.
I have had contrasting experiences with rain: I have danced in showers of rain. I wrote mathematics during my junior WAEC on a rainy day. I was drenched by the time I got to the exam hall. I have slept peacefully to the lulling sound of rain on the zinc roof.
My many experiences have taught me four major life lessons, and I share them with you.
Accept that seasons change and so the rains will come: There are things that we can do nothing about, and one of such things is the seasons changing. One reason I rest assured, despite the unpredictability of the rains, is that I reminded myself before this season that the rains were coming and I couldn’t stop it.
There will be the rainy seasons and the dry seasons. There will be highs and lows. There will be hot and cold. Seasons change and the earlier we accept this, the better we would learn lesson number two.
Prepare for the rains: If asked to give one life advice to everyone, to help them in all circumstances, I would say “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” Life is mainly about planning and preparations because that is all we can do. Knowing that the rains will come should find you preparing for it.
Fix the leaking or weak roofs, mend your broken windows, buy an umbrella or a raincoat, get rain boots, do whatever you have to do to weather the coming storms. If you have done this, then you can do lesson number three.
Enjoy the sights and sounds of the rain: I mentioned how I had slept better with the white sounds of falling rain. I also had a fantasy as a child: after the rainwater found its way into our living room, my father built a fence-like structure to serve as a barricade to future overflowing rains.
On some rainy days, I’d sit on this fence and, staring intently at the expanding ripples, convince myself that the house was floating about, just like a ship would. Other times (recently), I have used the rainwater to wash out dust from the balcony. When the rains come, enjoy it and use it because you might miss it when it goes, and I assure you, it will go.
Realize that nothing lasts forever: The truth is that you might think you are ready for the rain, but when it comes, you discover that you weren’t well-prepared. At this point, there is nothing you can do but wait it out, thankful for the fact that it won’t fall forever.
Also, if there are things to be enjoyed in the rainy season, enjoy it while you can: save as much rainwater as you can, water what you need to, do what you have to do because seasons change and the rains will soon go away.
Deal with it
I once had a job that saw me in the rain a lot, because I started it in the rainy season. I found myself drenched a lot of times, and I hated the rainy season the more. This time, I am less disturbed by the rain. Why? I mended the broken windows. I have no leaking or pouring roof. I have an umbrella. When the rains came, I was not afraid. I was prepared.
However, if my umbrella gets broken in a storm, and I find no shelter to hide, I will keep walking in the rain, avoiding open gutters and potholes, until I get to my destination. I may be lucky, and the sun will come out while still travelling.
The rains will come.
Life will happen to you.
Prepare for it.
Deal with it.