The sound of rain has followed my good mood all over the world.
In Sea Point, when it rained in the early summer, I’d head over to the promenade and stick my head over the concrete parapet, stare out over the Atlantic Ocean and wonder.
In Vredehoek, the rain came accompanied with thick mist which silenced the city.
Camps Bay was exquisite under the rain. We would hang out, just chilling in the rain, covering the balls with a towel, always optimistic.
When the rain came down in driving torrents, Llundudno was a different kind of conversation with nature. You couldn’t argue with that kind of weather, you just had to sit there and take it.
The University became just that little bit more beautiful, especially towards the end of the autumn, when the ivy leaves started coming out and the rain would trickle down over them. It could really come down over the Southern Suburbs, not like the docile patter of drops in the City Bowl. On “the other side of the mountain”, the water just got dumped on whoever was lucky enough to be outside. There was no hiding from that.
You tended to get a lot done on rainy days, at varsity… especially after that first degree. Arrive early, grab a coffee at McHarry’s and get your head down. The M went down that way. The P went down that way (well, the parts of it I was actually on campus and not being an actual scientist someplace).
See, Africa is a good place for getting things done when it rains. Well, maybe it was back then.
Today I was taking littledude to school, and it was raining. No big deal actually - just add an umbrella and hop onto my shoulders and we’re good to go. We have this luxury of being able to walk to school and hang out with each other for a few minutes in the morning. Most days it’s an uphill battle (literally, the school is over a little hill in the city), and I try to shield him from the impertinent, agressive, arrogant, uneducated behaviour of the folks we have to share this city with. Yet, when it rains, it’s different. The city opens up. With the appropriate input filters, it’s a beautiful, civilised place.
However, that input filter has to be as big as a frikkin huge umbrella. You need to filter out an entire culture… a culture that sees rain as Kryptonite ! I mean, I get it - this is an old place with old habits which don’t die at all. Rain used to be a recipe for illness, disaster and calamity. Folks would catch cold and straight up die. Kids would get whipped away in torrents of mud and rain and just disappear. Granpa would slip on the basalt stone, break his hip and there goes the family sustenance.
Rain was a Bad Day back in the day. Folks here haven’t forgotten that, but they haven’t learned how to chill and deal with it - Africa style. The inputs are all danger, danger and rain, rain, go away and Screw your needs, fellow person, I’m getting wet here, so me first.
Rain is “put a jacket on”
dude, it’s 25 degrees outside
Rain is “you can’t go outside”
dude, it’s perfect right now, there’s no-one around
Rain is “close the windows, you’ll let the water in”
dude, are you hearing this poetry falling down on the shingled rooves ?
Not to enforce my opinion on anyone or anything, but do you know what you’re missing, people ?
Here’s the thing…
We got to school. Littledude dismounted, we share a high-five. We walked up the stairs at school, sing-song, happy, enthusiastic. At the top of the stairs, big hug, “Who’s my best Littledude ?”, “I am !”, “Damn straight !”, high-ten because you’re awesome !
Teacher approaches, has to go downstairs to sign up - she just forgot to do it. No stress, we’ll come with you - littledude gets to hop down the stairs again, in some new way he’s just invented.
Vedi Federico, che brutta giornata…
Here’s the thing - I’m not cool with that. I’m not cool with this way of seeing things, this painting a beautiful day with “brutta giornata”, just because it’s raining. Trivialising something down to the lowest common denominator, the worst-case scenario…
I turned to the teacher and said, “No maestra, è una bellissima giornata.”, then popped a glance at Littledude preparing for his last jump down the steps and said to him :
You like the rain, my boy ?
His response ?
That’s my boy.