Why stop the rain?

Society & Culture | By Christine Ndoro, Fine Artist | 02 October 2015

I have watched the rain flow fervently; embroiling itself in such filth, I have been afraid to clean the objects it soiled. Yet that same rain has fallen on dusty leaves and cleansed the air we breathe. The same storm has smeared and cleansed, exposed and buried, depleted and nourished, entrapped and set free. We can choose not to get caught up in the rain but the rain never chooses or discriminates us. It falls because its time has come.

I can never say I hate the rain. In the same way rain, as it gathers, can suffocate as much as it also refreshes. One rainy summer years ago my young and foolish mind believed I could swim without ever learning how. From infant school to junior school, we were asked if we could swim and I said I could. I despised the fact that only three people ever went for swimming practice. That afternoon, they lined us up at the deep end and I jumped in to the water and imitated what I had watched countless people do. In my mind I was swimming, but the reality is I went a little too deep in the water. After a while I stopped moving at all. Grace and Mercy have never let go. My plan was not to take a breath until I reach where my feet could touch the base of the pool. After what seemed an eternity, I felt hands on my tummy pushing me towards the walls of the swimming pool. Before I knew it, other strong hands hoisted me quickly out of the water. I was safe. Did I regret it? No! My young mind could not grasp the kind of danger I had put my life in. It took a number of talks for it to finally sink in. By the end of the year I could swim a full pool length without stopping and I learnt how to breathe while swimming (at the same time).  The same thing that almost took my life refreshed and saved it. Where rain gathers, the interpretation and acceptance of it is an individual experience. For so many years after, I found joy in swimming in the sewer gutters of my neighbourhood, and rivers in the rural areas where the rain had gathered. Never mind the bilharzia, the colds and the scratches that took forever to heal afterwards. My childhood was happier because of what started in that rainy summer, so long ago.  Now that I can swim, as an adult, I have chosen to dislike it, but I can never say I hate the rain.

Sometimes the rain erodes as much as it renews. I can never say I hate the rain. There was this humongous wooden crate that had no room in our home so we placed it outside. It had shoes  we planned to give away to a charity. Within a couple of days, rats came and destroyed those shoes. So we moved the crate from the veranda to the back yard. It was dry season then or so we thought. Then the rains came down and the crate was infested by termites. That for me rendered it untouchable until about six seasons later, when I was certain the termites were gone. I binned the shoes but was so intrigued by the textures that had been created in the wood. The termites had eaten holes into it and the rains had split the wood into layers. I used the wood to frame a multimedia painting I called ‘Fallen from Grace’. It speaks of how people fall because of our perceptions of them and the labels we give them. It is a commentary on how these labels strip away the basic right to self-esteem and human dignity. Like this object, sometimes our lives and ourselves as people need to be corroded down in order to be renewed. Just because someone cannot see our usefulness, it does not mean we become irrelevant. Seasons change and life evolves. Everyone is useful. Every life counts and that is why I can never say I hate the rain.

 

Fallen From Grace
I can never say I hate the rain. In the same stroke that rain kills it brings life. Through the rains disease, poisons, electricity have been carried through. These have killed and maimed people and animals yet our species continue to survive. Cyclones, tornados and floods sweep away entire lives. When the rains come down in our own lives, parts of us are broken. We are left with parts of us missing or segments of ourselves even die. During our time of personal turmoil we often lose a lot. We become so overwhelmed by the loss we fail to see how life is making a new way. We fail to see our life and our strength evolving, and the alternative life lines created in the process.

 

Bessie Head in When Rain Clouds Gather wrote a passionate passage about how good people are like rain. Good people accept the good with the bad and they always find a way. I hope to be counted among the good people when the cycle of this life ends, because it means I would have lived beyond and despite my obstacles and boundaries. As I take time out to look at the cycle of my life, outside the discomfort of the thunderstorm and the wetness, I can never say I hate the rain. Change like rain embraces everything and manoeuvres around obstacles to find its way. ‘Mizu no Kokoro’ if I remember it correctly means a mind like water but I will take it a step further and say our lives must be like water… always reinvented and moving on. I can never say I hate the rain because it makes no sense for me to hate it. Let the change come and may I always find strength to learn from it and move on. If embracing it is a workable alternative, why should I ever stop the rain?

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