Children of the Rain

http://coconuter.blogspot.com/2009/03/traditional-filipino-games-larong-pinoy.html

photo  from here

It’s  June in the year 1990, I was 7 years old then.

A gust of cold wind hit my face and  I saw through my window the confluence of  gray, angry clouds hovering like giant cotton balls in the sky. Then comes what I have been waiting for —- a downpour  of  pitter-patter on our iron roof which draws a smile on my face. I am joyously happy when it rains. Rain is not an excuse to stay in, it’s the perfect time for me and my brother to go out and play with the rain gods.  And the Hawaiian frogs in our garden are vocalizing so loudly as if summoning us to celebrate this gloriously wet afternoon, inviting our itchy feet to play on the puddles and calling us to shake the rain-kissed branches of the hibiscus in our garden.

My brother and I have been waiting  for this day, the first rain of June . We haven’t seen rain this generous for a long time since we lived for 2 years in a place where sandstorms and hailstorms never gave us a reason to play outside safely.

Rain is more friendly, we believe so.  Days like this are priceless, it’s not everyday that you can take a bath in the biggest shower room created for a moment by mother nature. I say a silent thank you to my parents that we came home to this country where almost half of the year  is purely a season of rain and unwelcome typhoons.

Oh how we love rain! Rain that soaks us and creates all sorts of puddles —big, small, deep and  shallow. There’s all sorts of  muddy puddles where I can sink and stomp my feet in and the crystal clear  puddles on the road where I can see my  Philippines-to-Timbuktu smile staring  back at me. The rain washes away my old childhood longing of the Philippines and fills my thirst for the 2 years I missed doing things like this.  I close my eyes and lift my head to feel the drops of rain on my face.  The songs of the  frogs continue all afternoon — we share their joy as rain creates a whole new playground for us without the sun to spoil it. We played games, hugged trees, smelled the flowers and as a final reverence to the rain, I stick out my tongue to taste a few drops of rain— i take it as a kiss from heaven. As my brother and I race to the shower room, we look back and send all gratitude and love to the beginning of the rainy season, as it blesses the ground and everything it touches including us —  children of the rain as we call ourselves.

Yes, we are indeed children of the rain.

After we shower , we dry out and head to our dining table to join the rest of the family.  Our grandmother then hands everyone  hot mugs filled with her  homemade dark chocolate made of pure cacao tablets and we gather around  as the rain pours in the background of family chatter and the amphibian melody goes on all night. One sip of  the hot chocolate and the love  just goes straight to warm our hands and bring solitude to our young energetic souls. It warms our hearts which were soaked already with happiness from the rain but with  plenty of room to receive  the boundless gift of freedom that only  childhood can impart.

A dance in the rain, a chorus with the frogs, capped with hot chocolate shared with the love of family — that to me is the perfect rainy afternoon of my childhood.

This memory was inspired by this
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Losing Lola Sing

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I can’t seem to get over my Lola Sing’s sudden death. It’s very hard to swallow another loss when there is still a lingering sadness over Lola Lord’s death last December. People keep telling me that it’s okay because they’re old and death seems inevitable. I’ll never understand what that means. Death completes the symmetry of life but what makes it hard is when the timing is just so abrupt. One day you see them alive and the next day they’re gone. I feel like she was stolen from us.

Lola Sing dropped by on my father’s birthday on the 27th of March and we had afternoon tea with chocolate cake. I gave her a big hug before she left; In between chuckles she refused when I offered to carry her groceries for her and walk her to the street corner where she rode a tricycle home to the village where she lived.

The next day she collapsed in front of the stage while watching her grandson, my cousin Matthew performing a modern dance on the stage. She was so elated that she was crackling with laughter before she fell on my uncle’s arms, unconscious. I didn’t see that unfold. I saw her minutes after the event at the emergency room of our district hospital, her small frame on a stretcher—pale, cold and pulseless. She was pronounced dead on arrival. I was so shocked and I wept like a child.

The grief that I have is that of a little girl who grew up having grandmothers who are present on any given day. They all gave me the fundamentals of a happy childhood and beyond. My Lola Ning, my maternal grandmother has 6 sisters and 1 brother, all of whom have been active while I was growing up. Years ago, I pondered on the idea of what it would be like when I start losing them. There is no pondering and wondering anymore, it’s real-time unfolding of the things that will never be the same. Lola Lord’s house on the other block has lost its luster. What used to be a backyard full of children—one group doing a mock fashion show on the balcony ledge while some huddle over the pond poking water lilies—is now a house with boarded up windows.  It breaks my heart that I never cast a look at the house whenever I pass by because the flood of childhood memories and echoes of past conversations on the front porch are just overwhelming.

Now, with Lola Sing gone too, a mass of childhood memories comes flitting on the surface of my consciousness. I feel like I’m in a time machine where the first destination is the year 1990.I’m 8 years old all over again. I’m transported back to that summer afternoon when I packed my bag and headed for Lola Sing’s house at the farm, one tricycle ride away from the town where I lived. Lola Sing is one of my maternal grandmother’s sister and she has this house on top of the hill beside the village Elementary School where she was a teacher. After the dusty tricycle ride, I scrambled through the bamboo bridge that connects their hill to the main road, then I went up the stone pathway where my Lola Sing awaits with a smile that makes here eyes disappear into small slits .I can hear her signature chuckle as a greeting. I don’ t remember if I gave her a hug or what but I probably did because that’s how it has always been for us, a hug, every time we meet. We spent the afternoon rummaging through her wooden chest, where I found a bunch of foot-long wooden pencils with a carved design on the base instead of an eraser, that bounced when you write and a couple of note pads. She let me keep everything that I liked. The best part was when I helped her pack her stuff in her classroom because she was retiring that week; she handed me a story book and let me keep it as well. I have it up to this day.

The funeral was two Mondays ago and it was not as emotional as Lola Lord’s but it was the most peaceful our clan has ever had. There was no wailing and no monologues of regret from anyone because Lola Sing died with laughter on her lips. She was happy up to her last breath and we all know that.

This little girl in my heart clutching a story book will miss her so dearly.