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.*