Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bathing in the rain

I WENT to the house of a friend I was staying with one noontime after conducting an interview for a special assignment, trying to ignore the hunger signals my stomach was sending and nursing a headache from lack of sleep. I was forced to get up early, missed my breakfast and I was feeling grouchy.

The sound of screaming kids playing games in the street right below the house drummed through my eardrums, aggravating the pain in my head.

Although I know it was cruel of me, I prayed it would immediately rain hard to stop the screaming and the noise so I could grab a few hours of sleep before reporting to the office for work.

Looking up at the sky, I knew I was wishing for the impossible because it has stifling hot, but suddenly, as if in answer to my wish, the sky began to darken and it was not long before large, fat raindrops came pouring down

The kids disappeared like bubbles when the rain fell, and albeit feeling a little guilty, I heaved a sigh of relief. I munched on a pack of soda crackers, deciding to eat a full meal after I've grabbed a few hours of sleep.

I was just drifting off to dreamland when noise erupted, drowning the rythmic pitter-patter of the rain on the roof.

The kids again!

I got up, my sleepiness flew out the window and my headache intensified. I peered out, and sure enough, from the surrounding houses children of all sizes and colors emerged, all shouting and eager to take a bath in the rain!
Talk about peace and a rest free from the kids' shouting!

I didn't intend to be mean. I was once a child who grew up in a neighborhood full of children. Maybe family planning was an unheard of thing that time, because every family seemed to produce children faster than we can count. In fact, in our whole neighborhood, mine was the only family that had only four children. The rest had six or more. One even had 13 kids born in rapid succession, popularly termed as 'do-re-mi' referring to the musical scale.

And how we all loved taking a bath in the rain! It was one of the best times of our lives. We enjoyed it so much that even if there's no rain, we splash water on each other.
(I hate to admit that water system was not yet installed at our houses that time and the water we splashed on each other came from a spring located far away from our homes, fetched by our parents or elder siblings, or by somebody they paid to fetch).

I loved the feel of raindrops hitting my body, and the refreshing sensation of coolness the increased speed and movement of each raindrop brings. I enjoyed having my soggy clothes stick to my body and the feeling of having rivulets run down my arms and legs. We would chase each other and play games until our fingers turn blue and our jaws would quiver with cold.

The rains promised us hours of splashing in puddles. But not all children are fortunate to have experienced the joys of taking a bath in the rain. That is out of the question especially for people whose children are always accompanied by 'yayas', whose umbrellas and raincoats materialize as soon as a small droplet of water fall from the skies. They missed a lot.

One day last year I decided to take a bath in the rain again, longing to recapture my childhood days (alas, how long ago that was) under the pretense of cleaning our backyard. Short, fat raindrops tickled down, and I was eagerly expecting for the refreshing feeling I always get when bathing in the rain as a child to come back, but I had barely become wet when the rain stopped.

Just like that. A few drizzles then the rain was gone. I developed a headache, followed by a three-day cold and runny nose instead.

It had been a long time since I have taken a bath in the rain. I guess somewhere along my journey into adulthood, baths in the rain have lost their magic.
My mind has formed new associations with the rain: the complete disturbance of plans, disruption in transportations, neglected garbage dumps, floating filth in waterlogged streets that no one in his right mind would be tempted to wade in, much less take a bath, the eternal water and power problems, and the carrying of umbrellas, a task I have never learned to love.

Instead of offering the bliss of solitude, the rain reminds me of the irrevocable loss of the innocent pleasures of childhood.*

August 10,2003

Watching the sunrise

By Raquel C. Bagnol

I awakened from a deep slumber to the sound of flying pots and pans, smashing of plates and shattering of window panes.

Earthquake! I was alarmed, having developed a phobia for earthquakes in my elementary grades. However, instead of the expected tremor, a female's high-pitched voice shrieked. I could clearly pick out a string of profane language and swearing, punctuated by smashing of things on the floor and the walls.

A man's counter-shouting followed. A few seconds later, the wailing of two kids roused from deep sleep added to the noise.

The shouting match that followed isn't fit for the ears of the general public and requires parental guidance for young audiences.

Here they go again! I know I should get used to the young couple's brawls next door at the most unearthly hours of the night but I had just fallen asleep. And besides, why would they want the whole world to know that the man caught his wifie with another man in a night club while he himself left their two kids sleeping to go on a till-morning drinking spree with his friends?

I mean the whole neighborhood already knew about that, why do they have to announce it over and over again? I thought angrily.

I covered my ears with my hands and buried my head beneath the covers to shut out the noise, but to no avail. I have an appointment at 10 a.m. and I needed sleep in order not to look like a worn-out rag doll discarded from Sequijor the next day.

Bud judging from the intensity of the shouting match next door, I knew sleep would be next to impossible.

By force of habit, I immediately fumbled for my tape recorder beside the bed and turned it on. ( I had developed the habit of recording the frequent quarrels of this couple in the past few weeks which I planned to play for them when the need arrives, like the need to blackmail...but of course I knew I could never do that.

Glancing at my alarm clock, I was pissed off to know it was only 4:45 in the morning! I had barely slept for a couple of hours.

I'm a night person. I mean I think best in the evening. In the early evening, after the sun has gone down and the world is preparing to turn in, my metabolism is finally moving at top speed and I begin to blend in with the night.

My sweetest sleep would be from 2-9 a.m. While the world is starting to get up, I would be burrowing deep under the covers to get the best sleep. Wake me up at 5 a.m. and you'll be dealing with the grumpiest being on earth. I'm very unproductive at this time I could hardly remember my middle name. (I'm writing this at 12 midnight and my middle name is Cuaresma).

I'm not even fully awake at 10 yet. Prior to finally getting up would mean several resetting of my alarm clock (I have to put it away from reach or elese I'd grope for it in my sleep and turn it off).

Not wanting to hear more, I turned off my tape recorder and groggily got off the bed. After putting on a pair of jogging pants and a shirt, I headed for the beach, not caring that it's Times Beach (not ideal for a whiff of fresh morning air I know, but it's the nearest).

A handful of people were already taking a dip in the sea. I sat on a deserted cottage, thankful that only a few souls are around. (Not enough to stir the pollution yet).

Very soon, the sun started to come out in all its glory, spreading its red, yellow and orange glow on the smooth surface of the sea. It was a wonderful sight, a sight I had almost forgotten.

Fon't get me wrong, I don't live in a dungeon and I know the sun rises everyday. It's just that I very, very seldom see it.

How long ago have I seen the sunrise, I can't really remember. In fact, I remember seeing only a very few sunrises in my whole life. I'm more acquainted with sunsets. I know sunrise is a sight worth seeing, a symbol of the promise of a new day.

For once, my next-door neighbor's early morning fracas did something good for me.*

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