I love watching the rain, watching the cloud banks build during the early afternoon to enormous heights, growing darker and taking over the sky. Then there is the cool wind that precedes the storm, blowing through our home, making the yellow curtains billow like sails.
The first tremendous clap of thunder wakes up the day and almost immediately the first few cooling drops spatter in the dust. Within seconds there are puddles everywhere, the streets all but empty of people, cars and goats – just the odd okada buzzing along with a passenger holding up an open umbrella. Gallons of water pour out of the sky, battering the roofs and blowing into windows. With no light, it feels as though it is mid-evening yet it is only mid-afternoon.
Thunder bursts all around Sabo-Oke then rumbles off into the distance. The rain continues to teem down, getting louder, pouring like a waterfall off the gutterless houses. It feels safe inside, looking out. Where have all the lizards gone – and the goats and the fluffy pink chicks?
It’s as if God is rewarding us for putting up with the constant sweating, the dust and the fumes, being baked alive every time we trek out.
A lizard has appeared on the outside mesh, trying to get in, no doubt. It looks grey, as if camouflaged against the sky – it’s not working, fella – I just spotted you! The dense cloud seems to rob the world of its vibrancy and reduce everything to matt greyness – not reflecting, nor absorbing – just being, just relaxing, getting wet – just nice.
I retrieve my trainers from a puddle that is starting to form on the veranda floor and listen to the thunder – or is it next door’s generator?
The storm eventually passes and we can see clearly the four great minarets of the new mosque near the Emir’s palace on the far side of the city. Human voices start to emerge, calling, squealing, crying, as the rain dies away and life resumes. Someone’s voice, sounding dangerously like Celine Dion drifts from a nearby stereo. Reverie over – now I know I am back in the real world!
The air is clear and fresh, the gutters swept of their foulness, at least temporarily, and we actually feel like trekking – until we inadvertently step into a pot-hole.
The sky lightens and the rain takes on a more ‘English’ patter, but this is warm rain; this we can predict will be over by nightfall and by morning there will be little evidence that the storm ever happened.
Spare a thought, however, for our neighbours in the slums where most windows have no glass or mesh, roofs leak and, being below the road level, the ground floor, often only earth, gets inundated as soon as the street gutters fill up. It must be miserable inside, with little to do and no light to do it in. We trekked past the family where the barefoot children always run out to greet us as we pass. They were there, standing under the eaves, watching the rain, but unlike me, just waiting for the sun; they all ran out to greet us, as usual, even the babies being carried out by older children, into the pouring rain and the running stream where their road used to be – simply to greet us!