Best you cover your head

All ah we got we own set ah little drama
Some drink ah rum, some seek a saviour
Some run down fun, some never quench thirst for power
And some seek love in the most desperate hour
Stand firm and don’t let self-doubt devour
Yuh got to be the dread at your controls in this iwah
Cah sit and hope for a break in the rain or is we tuh ketch again

—Rain, Kin Sound System

The rain falls. Doing her thing. Getting on with the business  of being in season. The sky is almost as deep grey these mornings as it is deep blue in a cloudless dawn. You smile into your pillow because the sweetness of sleep with a rain lullaby is like no other. Rain on the galvanize that you miss when you are in far-away places that do not know the joys of this kind of percussion. It is a soundtrack that slows your racing thoughts, silences the voices of unhad conversations, unachieved goals, unresolved disagreements. The rain gives dreams a gentle soundtrack. Somewhere else someone is not so happy that it is raining. So you give thanks for rain on the outside of the galvanize and not inside, dripping slow and steady onto your bed, onto your sleeping child, onto your damp clothes.

Rain is not joyous for everyone on these islands. Rain is headache. Rain is flood. Rain could mean successful crops or failed crops. Rain is hours of waiting for public transport that takes its sweet time to come. But in this dawn moment you smile into the cool side of your pillow and arch your feet into the warm corners of your blanket.  Enjoy the benevolent sound before you have to wake up and face the reality of this music and all the good and bad things the rain brings. Rain to wash your dishevelled soul. Rain to mingle with your tears. Rain to bring zaboca. And rain to bring cool evenings. The rain brings flies. Of all descriptions. Fat flies that dance their diseased dance on your mangoes. And mosquitoes that sing off-key for spite in your ears. And rain flies to dance to their deaths in your fever grass tea.

Rain brings mixed emotions and the delightful confusion of love you feel for a place that is a most sometime-ish lover. The rain washes away Sasha’s sins. And you who have not sinned are righteously indignant. Not understanding that in this time of any number could play, of mysteries and signs and amazing wonders, Sasha’s sins can be washed as easily as Uncle Jack’s. The rain doesn’t judge the crimes of those she falls on. The rain doh business with who is washed away or who is left standing.
The rain brings a reshuffled Cabinet. And tears of happiness and sadness for Aunty Verna. Wishing that this is an opportunity for children to get the protection they need. Fearing it is an opportunity for politicians to destroy the dreams of another community worker trying to do good for the people.

But Shango sends lightning bolts of warning and Osun washes Aunty Verna in her tears. SEA results come with the rain. And the rain mingles with tears. For children who are taught from young that the only way to succeed is to work hard and work long so that you can go and work for someone else and realise their dreams. For children who are good at passing exams but not necessarily at thinking for themselves. For children who get relegated to the schools where they are taught to believe they are stupid. For parents who are not sure if they can find the money to put their children through school because they fear for what will become of their children at the hands of schools that breed the brightest idlers whose skills that may not come in a book become the skills that lead them to the dark side of the force.

The rain falls and we run for shelter in MovieTowne. While up the road Woodbrook floods. Because who cares about the mangrove when there’s such a desperate need to be entertained out of the mind-numbing boringness of our island lives. And when you’re finished watching the movie you can have your own high-speed chase and your own near-death moment of stardom. We’re all ready for lights, camera, action on the most popular reality show every night that is called the news, although it really should be called the Haven’t we seen and heard this all before? And if you want to live in a crime-free place, I mean you could just move to Switzerland. But the rain doesn’t fall on galvanized roofs in Switzerland.

The rain falls like our tears for Norris Deonarine. Whose departure is still too much to consider. Whose departure remains unmarked by a so-called caring government. The rain falls and the prices of fruits and vegetables begin the high and low dance. And talk of food crisis and climate crisis and land crisis from other parts of the world are lost in the din of rain. The rain falls. Doing her thing. Oblivious to her impact on us. Or our impact on her. Thunder is rolling in the distance. Thunders is rolling like a literary device and you try to decide whether you will wake up and face the rain and whatever good and bad it brings.  Or stay here a little longer enjoying the sound of it. The way those dreams may never become real and the possibilities of all the beauty and the horror that is just outside waiting to consume you with equal intensity.

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Rain down on Me.

The rain comes like a pleasant surprise on a Thursday night. And you forget the crushing heat of the day. The feeling that you would melt into a puddle of sweat and be evaporated, leaving behind a pile of hair and salt as the only reminders of your existence. When it gets that hot even the hummingbirds forget which way is up. Reason abandons you and all you want to do is think cool thoughts and then you turn on the radio and Papa Patos is saying something to make your brains sizzle.Your plants protest, the fever grass leaves turn into spears protesting that the morning’s offerings were insufficient to survive the day. The ground is dry again. The sun relentless. The ineptitude of politicians unchecked. The emptiness of your bank account consistent. But then the clouds gather because the universe takes pity on your helplessness. A breeze passes to cool your hot brains. The rain comes like a sigh of relief. Making you want to drop everything you are doing and retire to bed where, under the galvanize it sounds like the best possible symphony. Thunder rumbles and you resurrect the smells of my grandmother’s kitchen—chocolate tea with an oily film at the top of your favourite cream chipped enamel cup. The smell of cheese as it melts between a piece of bake.  It’s the simple things you conjure in the magic of night rain.

In the rain listen to a little Lata Mangeshkar, understanding what she sings only from the sheer pain in her voice. It is a love song no doubt, they are always love songs.  Love for God and man and the trees and all the other things that live in your ecosystem. Imagine your plants revelling in the wet earth. In the rain your can hear things growing and you are glad to be here and part of it. Things that set root and push out of the ground. Mangoes and manicous share the joy of the rain. And in the morning after the rain the night before, the pumpkin leaves are bigger and the peppers redder and the pigeon peas a little taller. Mint and tomatoes push purposefully upwards. And if you were a better farmer, you would plant people too. You would sow good politicians and men who love their children and their women. You would plant a crop of humans who would take root in the soil and nourish it. Hold on to it. Give to it and take from it in an endless cycle.

In the rain and the rumbling of thunder that vibrates your bed and the wood of your floor and your old windows and the beautifully rusting galvanize you are glad to live in the tropics. Glad that most of the time it is pleasant enough for you to wander about without having the fix your mind to be in confrontation with nature.  When it rains here, you can dance in it, catch rainflies, squish your toes and hope that some parasite doesn’t take up residence in your nails. The rain continues all night into the morning. Keeping you rooted there. You don’t have to get up to wet your plants. You don’t have a job to be reporting too. It is dark and warm like a womb must have been. You are glad for the extra time. When it rains here people stay home to hug up their loved ones, to find the warmth and love they thought they had lost, to dream dreams that sometimes are missed in the quest to beat the traffic, be productive citizens, join the rat race.

The rain slows us down to remind us of the things that perhaps are more important. The unnoticed things. Things growing and dying and living in our ecosystems that we might not notice in the hum of our electric lights in the concreteness of our jungles. And you hope the rain can wash away the thick film of stink that settles over everything here. You hope that the rain can wash away all the blood, all the disappointment, all the confusion and frustration. You hope that the rains will keep this gentle tempo and not rise into a rushing roaring torrent to punish us for our many many sins. You hope that this rain only brings good things. That this rainy season stays wet but not drowning. Delightfully moist but not too soggy so that the roots of your growing things drown from the excess. Drown before they bear fruit.  Are destroyed by the very thing that gives them life. The rains are tears that bring joy. A necessary sadness to bring new life and make you love the sunlight and the greenness of the hills some more.

Pedestrian blues on a rainy Monday in Port of Spain

Stood in the rain today. Waiting for a car. Thinking about London, my toes making squishy noises in my sandals. Stood in the rain on Wrightson Road and the traffic snaked past. People in their nice warm cars filing slowly past me, standing in the rain, half my body getting more wet as the rain drops came faster and more slanted from the left. I can see their faces. They look at me from their warm cars. And smile. As if I am some kind of interesting spectacle to entertain them in the traffic. So I smile back, because there’s nothing else to do, standing in the rain waiting for a taxi.

I was coming back from the licensing office, went in to get a form to fill out so that I can renew my driver’s permit. The woman behind the counter was as surly as the last time I went in. She watched me over her glasses and a drop of water plopped very loudly from the ceiling onto the top of my head. Sigh.Five minutes pass. The rain is unrelenting. A van pulls up and the driver beckons to me. I jump in, wanting to weep with relief that someone has picked me up. Someone who isn’t so paralysed by the fear of living in this place that he is willing to rescue a half soaked pedestrian.

We chat about nothing much on the way to town. About the weather mostly and the traffic and the lack of public transport.  He says I looked un-phased by the rain.  Too cool to be washed out by some raindrops.  I laugh.  It’s my Babylondon training.  At least this rain is warm.  At least this rain leaves you feeling like a you took part in an upright Baptism.  Takes the edge off the heat.  Cleanses you of your weariness.
There is no talk about crime. No talk about carnival or economic crises. I don’t know his name or why he isn’t governed by the same fear or maybe snobbery that made all those other people pass me by. We part ways on Independence Square, as the clouds part to reveal a weak, bleak patch of blue.