At Last



It rained last night.


Cue round of applause and exhalation of long held breath.


It rained – soft, kind, gentle rain which belied the thunderous ovation that accompanied it – and I curled deliciously beneath covers too thin for the cool.


Less delicious come dawn, though. The trip switch clicked loudly, an ominous snap signalling an end to power as we know it.


No tea for me then.


I staggered from my bed intent on sourcing the problem. Me, with no significant qualifications and certainly none in electrics, me so frantic for a brew I might have killed for it. Or killed myself in desperate and ignorant pursuit of same. I tried flicking the switch back on. To no avail.


The dawn drip-dripped in melancholy acknowledgment of my nomorningtea misery.


I stepped onto the verandah, awash with water that had soaked through the roof which had helpfully sieved all trace of dust from it before it landed a pristine puddle on the coffee table. Yesterday’s virginal bridewhite ceiling boards bellysag pregnant and stained sepia. As if with tea, come to think of it.


Is that where the source of my powerlessness lies, I wondered, up there?


I wasn’t going to swim. But I did. It seemed imperative given breakofday challenges.


I dived in and surfaced to steam rising from waters warmer than the air. A mist-laced lake beneath a cloud bound sky that brought to mind Arthurian legends. Except that I was no water-sprite accompanied by Lancelot or Excalibur. Rather a disgruntled mum keeping company with the four fat toads that swam lengths beside her.


An electrician came to survey the watery scene. He clambered up a ladder and rescued naked drowned cable in the roof.


Have you fixed it, I enquired when he climbed back down.


With duct tape, he nodded.


Later I am assured by the contractor who built the extension that he can waterproof my home. With sheets of United Nations blue plastic I notice: from the air we shall appear as a refugee camp.


Power restored, I drank my belated tea and took to the garden, damp sand moulding itself beneath bare feet so that I left prints as testimony to where I had walked.


We are planting trees, Sylvester and I. (Sylvester wears his wellies; he wears wellies every single day of the year irrespective of the weather). And a lawn. And a rockery. And ranks of bougainvillea against the fence.


Something is eating these, I observe to Sylvester as I bend low to examine nibbled leaves.


It’s the Gra Shoppers he says importantly.


And I giggle.


Because that’s what the Rain does to you in Africa.


Despite the unfamiliar grey, it’s suddenly easier to see the Bright Side.





21 Responses to “At Last”

  1. nuttycow Says:

    Sylvester reminds me of our gardener Freddy who once asked my mother for some “gumoose”. It took her ages to figure out he meant “gum-boots”.

  2. choppysunflower Says:

    I would have the same withdrawal going without my morning coffee. It would be horrendous. I would put up with any kind of patch to fix the problem, even high from the air visibility. I am glad you’ve had your cup of tea now and your gardener in his wellies by your side. I am sure he is quite professional. The wellies give him authority.

  3. Iota Says:

    Maybe the rain fills up the glass till it is half full.

  4. kitschen pink Says:

    You see – this is the bravery thing – there is so much to take in here but all I am wanting to scream is ‘You swam?!?!!!!’ – I don’t do water in public swimming pools so the very idea of stepping in over ones head at the outpost – home to scorpions and psychotic hippo’s – brave indeed! And then you blythely (can’t spell it) discuss the nuisance of rain-soaked cables wrapped in sticky tape – arrrgghhh! Maybe that’s why Sylvester is wearing wellies – he won’t get short circuited having a cuppa! t.x

  5. Rob (Inukshuk Adventure) Says:

    Oh those bloody Gra Shoppers! He, he!

  6. Mom de Plume Says:

    Hmmm, without coffee in the I would be pretty useless all morning! I feel for you. Perhaps you should get a skottle braai with a kettle plate or even a gas cooker, you know, those two plate counter top ones! Then you would ALWAYS have tea… as long as you can get gas in the Outpost, that is?

  7. paradiselostintranslation Says:

    If in doubt, a cup of tea makes most things look brighter, I find.

  8. ann Says:

    Ah rain, now remind me what that looks like? Does it look like the grey drizzle that we have had for weeks?

  9. Marianne Says:

    This made me smile. I loved your description of your swim – what a lovely thing to be able to do. Glad you got your cup of tea in the end.

  10. val Says:

    hey fantastic – you got rain too.!
    love the gra shoppers 🙂

  11. black mzungu Says:

    I put seeds in my garden waiting for the rain to come ooh i hope it does, water the neccesity of life what could one do without it, love your blog keep up the good work!

  12. mamamkali Says:

    Everytime it rains we get the candles out …. no pressure, no hurry … except for me to fill my flask with water for 1a. beechams 1b. tea 2. mixing formulae 3. washing baby bottoms …. in that order.

    But I do so love the rain …. wish we could bottle that smell for the dry season eh.

    Waiting for you to get published so the rest of the world can read this.

  13. Roberta Says:

    I agree with someone up top there. Get yourself a table top propane gas grill. This way when the power is out, you can at least have something hot to eat and drink. You can find them online. (I have my grandfather’s) And they last forever. I would suggest a Craftman brand or maybe Coleman.

    You swam? You swam???!!!


  14. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    gumoose, nutty? lovely. just lovely.

    i agree choppy: the wellies give him a certain air. perhaps i ought to invest in some myself? barefeet don’t have quite the same authoritorial stamp about them at all.

    you’re too clever, Iota. And you’re right too x

  15. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    omigawd Kitschen, never thought of that: definatley getting self some wellies. wellies and shorts. not a terrribly good look but possibly a life saving one in event of drowned cable and trip switches?

    gra-shoppers. good Rob isn’t it?

  16. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Mom, sometimes i can get gas. sometimes. it’s precious though. but there are occassions when necessity override economics. that was one!

    oh paradise, ain’t that the truth. i drink gallons of the stuff.

    oh dear ann, that’s the thing though isn’t it? rain on one side of the world is a quite different thing to that on the other. oh for a morning of grey drizzle …

  17. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    marianne, i know, i am lucky: the pool is frequently my salvation and my morning swim has become a ritual that buoys me for the day. especially when i can get tea afterwards!

    val isn’t it great: the rain? garden still abounds with shopping gras though.

    thank you black mzunug, keep gardening!

  18. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    mamamkali – thanks for reading. and who gave you your name?! I’m intrigued. and i agree: if only we could bottle that scent. best in the world isn’t it?

    i did Roberta, i did: swimming helps to keep me the right side of the fine line between sanity and lunacy. just!

  19. Mozi Esme's Mommy Says:

    I LOVE the green here after the rain!

    And the master repair work done there sounds reminiscent of our roof work. No refuge camp, just a constant drip on our inside stairs with every rain…

  20. Susanna (A Modern Mother) Says:

    Wow, it really is another world there, thanks for the insight…

    Did you make up the bit about the blue UN plastic?

  21. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    me too Mozi: it’s so new isn’t it.

    No Susanna. Alas i did not make it up. it is mostly hidden under tiles but is insufficient to stop house being swamped. it will now, i believe, be draped raincoat like over the entire affair. i hope i can still look out of my windows?

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