Relief

The window pain is slapping its sill and the fragile trees are bobbing between 45-degrees and upright. To the north, fluffy white clouds dot happy skies while, to the south, a furious blue has taken over. The clouds smack into each other and the temperature drops. The rain is coming.

It may seem that I write about rain more often than any form of weather deserves, but rain in Africa is enchanting. Instead of something you have to put up with, it is something to stop and observe. It’s not a little annoyance to your day, but a symphony of the heavens. It has the menace known to destroy entire cities, yet it can be gentle like a mother rocking her baby to sleep. The way the clouds move in from the southwest and the wind rustles through the trees is dramatic but, when the rain finally starts to fall, there is relief.

It’s been hot lately, like the kind of heat known in late August in South Dakota. One knows fall and cooler temperatures will soon arrive, but the sun beats as much warmth into the earth as it can during those final days. Yes, the nights do cool but the afternoons show no remorse to those working in the fields or walking long distances to and from school.

The heat is pounding me down, not unlike life at the moment. Little things – a pile of dishes, a stubbed toe, the unending irritation of flies – nearly bring tears. Keep going, I tell myself, but sometimes I yearn for an excuse.

There is none and so I keep going. I climb each anthill like it is Everest and tell myself that eventually it will get better.

The morning of the rain, I decided that I would stop suffering through the small pains. I would let go of all “woe is me” and try to find something worth noting in those times when the entire world feels against me.

I sailed pleasantly without the normal exhaustion of another day. This new attitude, I thought, would work.

Then the clouds shifted and the wind rolled. The rain, the relief I desired so much, was about to come. It was a metaphor, I assumed.

The rain didn’t come. The blue storm clouds skirted past the village, hanging low but not leaving a drop. My reprieve wasn’t.

I resigned myself into acceptance. This was enough. The temperatures were cooler, there was a new air about. It was enough.

The clouds kept building until the entire sky was dark. It took a few hours, or it felt that way at least, and then she opened up. Hard and fast. Cooling and soothing. I was at school and wanted to get home to enjoy the silence. The only time there is not someone outside my door yelling or animals notifying everyone of their existence comes when it is raining.

The rain briefed for a moment and I started my journey home. I ran to quicken my pace but carefully as not to slip on the mud. A strange sound came from behind, almost like a car with a desperate need of an engine repair. When I turn around, I noticed it was the sound of the rain pounding the tin roofs, catching up with me. I still had a long way to go, but wasn’t too worried about the rain. It was the slashes of lightening that scared me the most as Lesotho boasts an usually high death by lightening rate. Maybe I could make it to the shop and seek refuge there, I thought.

A man whistled from the police station and I took his advice. I trampled into the office with four men, spreading fresh mud on the linoleum. My white shirt was now speckled brown and my white socks looked gray. Two men behind a desk chatted and another sat on the bench with me, while the one closest to me stared at a television. I kept my eyes on a puddle, waiting for the drops to slow.

When it did, I thanked them men and braced myself for more waddle running. On my way out, the men invited me to their Christmas party. In April.

The rain stayed light and I passed several students walking home. “Run,” I giggled to them. I finally reached my house and traded the muddy clothes for clean ones. All I could hear was the soft pound of rain and I decided it was the perfect time for yoga.

A washing of the heat. A giggle and generosity from neighbors. A reminder that no matter how hot it gets, relief always comes, even if you have to wait a bit. It will come.

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