It had been raining hard for the past three days. Silver sheets of rain fell from the gray skies, clattering on the tin roof, creating brown puddles in pocked roads, forming rivulets in the earth, making the soil a mixture of brown and black paste. Torrential winds occasionally accompanied this rainfall, swaying the branches, sometimes slashing them from trunks. The leaves, laden with water, didn’t rustle, but seemed to cling to one another like shirt to a human skin, like a possessive lover locking his loved one in a stifling embrace. Or so I had imagined these things, for I did not really see this spectacle of nature, being too busy—using a basin, a pail, or a dipper—collecting rainwater leaking through ceiling cracks.
Nature displayed her powers to me just as how she did to the rest of the drenched city. I had been running to and fro inside the house, looking up, listening for the steady thud of what I imagined to be rain seeping through a hole in the roof, dripping to the plywood ceiling, which used to be whitewashed but is now blotched with brown stains, and looking for a crack through which water might be getting in. And I found one in my room; it had already formed quite a puddle on the floor, just a few centimetres from my bookshelf. I nearly fainted upon seeing how close the rainwater had soaked my precious collection of books gathered over the years from second-hand bookstores and from those that sold ones that were wrapped in clear plastic. After placing a rag on the puddle and a basin beneath the crack, I could not be complacent. I traced the ceiling cracks, the furrows between sheets of plywood, inspected the rusted nails, and saw, to my horror, water collecting around the bulb socket. The fluorescent bulb had been flickering, and I didn’t notice it right away. Rust-stained droplets had trickled from around the corner of the socket and gathered at the tip of the capsule-shaped bulb. But the water wasn’t as profuse as the one near the shelf. Nonetheless, it was where water shouldn’t be. I checked the ceiling above my desk on which I placed my laptop, and sighed upon finding its surface smooth. An impasse was what I needed, but our decrepit house, made of cheap materials, left to its own devices by the landlady, streamlined every flow of rainwater that got in through the roof. How I cursed at the cats for walking and scratching and running on it on clear nights! How I hate the children who had gone up to it to get the shuttlecock that was slammed too hard with their rackets! How I hate the teenage boys who, in their delirious state of playing and being avid for the win, had thrown a basketball on the sheets of corrugated tin, making an explosive clank that jerked me up from sleep! But I could only shake my fist at the cracks, at the wet stain in the ceiling, and at nature for tugging my heart from its chest and squeezing it in her hand. I knew I wouldn’t have reacted that way, wouldn’t have panicked at the sight of water getting in to the house (If I may add: it was way better than having flood), had it not been for the possessions I regard so dearly. Rain dripping through ceiling cracks reminds me of poverty; it also reminds me that I must be ashamed for having possessed all these things: the books and the laptop, that not a very long time ago, I had nothing and was merely clinging to a hope of one day extricating myself from poverty.
Here I am now, sitting at my desk, filling blank pages with my literary aspirations, and wishing that life had turned out differently for me. Yes, with what little I had and how little has been added, I still wish for something better, a better house, perhaps, or a better state of being instead of a better state of living. My room is dark, for the light doesn’t come on anymore. The wires are grounded, I presume, considering that they have got wet. And I sit here, musing, trying to fit together the pieces of thoughts that seem strewn helter-skelter on the floor.
As I try to wonder what would become of me , strong winds outside begin to stir the leaves, and the rain starts clattering on the roof, and the steady thudding of water dripping on the ceiling commands me to stand up and search again for other wet patches, for other cracks. And I remember: I have run out of basins, pails and dippers.