Monday, September 20, 2010

Singing and Dancing in the Rain

By Sonia B. SyGaco

I see this morning's downpour, felt the sudden rush to go outside. The evening before, I counted sheep after sheep jumping over the fence. The drip-drop-drip from my rooftop comforted my tired eyes, lulling them towards sleep.
           Not camera obscura, my eyes took snapshots of childhood friends walking homebound, caught unguarded from the crying sky. We pretended the steel bar paths were railroads, and immediately the field became an avenue for play: tug of war, catch and run, and tumbling on the grass, wrinkly fingers from the growing cold. We were unmindful if we still could have lunch. We didn't wear waterproof watches so had to take off everything that would be spoiled by the wet, hiding all our bags beside the Luce lobby. Only when our lips quivered would we decide to head home.

          I seldom had the chance to go rain dancing, in the passing of time.  In fact, there had been many rainy seasons, countless to remember. Or perhaps one would refuse to remember them? A child would never forget. It's only when the moment becomes insignificant that another event unfolds to replace a memory. Looking through the child’s eyes, one could see this carefree spirit, an attitude inherent from our past but beyond our reach. Was it because those little clothes would no longer fit us now? Or during the transformation something did really change and so we became hunchbacks besotted with myriad responsibilities. Living outside the comfort zone, we depended on the weather. What options could one have, but to get along with it? One could see an intersection - a choice leading the other but it only ended up in the labyrinth, and we were compelled to glance at the wristwatch.
         One raises an eyebrow, seeing someone presenting something mediocre or cramming to pull things together. Or forgetting those little wishes and wishful thoughts of what tomorrow would be for us. It's simple to dream something complex:  I could think of a window display artist, an advertising specialist or a war correspondent. Nonetheless, all the darts missed the red circles. The challenges continued, the rain smearing the glass windows.
        Even now, I maintained the habit of letting rain fall my head, until someone beckoned me to squeeze in under an umbrella. Maybe I should be called an umbrella hiker. The rain shower constantly rolled my pants to knee length, as I waded and crossed the floods sweeping Manila. Sometimes, looking up became a crude way of knowing the sky's moods. Getting the warning ahead, all of us in the house would be reconciled to the ordeal of moving our things to the second floor.  Waiting for the water to subside from the last step of the staircase, I set sail paper boats. It took hours, sometimes a day, to finally drain the flood gate. The merging wastes from everywhere: we had to buy mineral water to wash our bodies.

The rainy season was annoying, yet there were moments when I would rather accept the humiliating remarks,”Where’s the rain?” But who cared? Well, they told me to break the rule of being an umbrella hiker. That I should bring one, gripping this rain gadget on a summer day. Else I'd have to endure multiple foot blisters from the scorching Penrith streets. I saw Aussie teenagers willing to tread on the hot roadbeds. The idea of being shoeless only happened in dreams, somewhat in fashion today. It was awful to see how they massaged lotion to soother the crack soles of their feet.
           For most, summers are akin to favorable things. I should recount what summer is, how I admired the white-pink combination of the cherry blossoms near our old playground. For two months, that irritating and pungent smell would be gone, the trees turning bald, but for the bunch of flowers sprouting from the branches.  I blurted: summer fun, where memoirs bridged the next getaway.
         There is so much discussion about getaway or the passing of each season, which brings me to Sara Teasdale‘s Spring Rain. Love in the rain, for Teasdale, offers maturity and does not stay in a doll house, life being perfect. So the author recollects her love in moderation. It teaches her to handle disappointments from the storm that sweeps through them:

”I remembered a darkened doorway
Where we stood while the storm swept by,
Thunder gripping the earth
And lightning scrawled on the sky.”
Spring Rain rekindles her affection and anticipates another.

”With the wild spring rain and thunder
My heart was wild and gay;
Your eyes said more to me that night
Than your lips would ever say. . . .

Whereas Rain by Robert Creeley presents an enduring love, a floating restlessness. Using the rain to symbolize an uncertain happiness, the poet associates his intensifying love and suppressed emotions.

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quite, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent--
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.”

         The metaphor of rain stretches to Ernest Hemingway’s Cat in the Rain, a story of a defenseless cat left in the pouring rain. The woman becomes engrossed with having the cat, but to her dismay the cat disappears when she goes outside. She misses the cat so much and complains to her husband, who hardly listens. Cat in the Rain reflects the needs of a woman, her feelings and expectations.
           When it rains, everything and all our expectations change. Planning life accordingly can turn awry. For instance, the intermittent fall of the rain during a pleasant day only confuses. For this rain that everyone tries to escape excuses no one. Others will immediately grab a mask so no one recognizes them or witnesses their fall. Or obediently they kneel when life dictates while others are too ashamed to admit. I am ambivalent, I will soon get ready for my Camden trip or wait in eternity for Godot.
          Like me or anyone else, all of us are as destined as Prometheus Bound, whose fate is controlled by the cosmos: to toil for this year, next year and the next until the figures are alternating decimals, infinite as long as people exist. The rain will never stop falling, so generic and common. For such understanding of how the rain devastates is wisdom gained. I feel unworthy, glued and paralyzed as grief devours my emotions. I would experience death in every rainfall and resurrect to life when the sun comes out from its hiding.
          Yet, people waltzing in the rain achieve more. It takes one to write a thesis in three months from the conventional one-year writing period, a single mother with four children, juggling between work and school, to become a lawyer, while another who washes his red shirt every night for tomorrow’s wear turns out to be someone influential.  My nanny’s infant who was not breastfed but given coconut wine married a Swiss businessman. It is surprising, that this complex process gives birth to anguish then springs off - challenging the human spirit not to cross the river twice and instead aim for perfection.
       So the rain drizzles in soft sprinkles and then falls in big drops. The bravery and courage of holding on makes it toilsome. There is a degree as to how far we hold off the threshold of pain - as thick as the rope or as thin as a thread. It is not possible to neither change the weather conditions nor alter the circumstances of the past. As Vivian Greene puts it, “Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Keeping such a cheerful attitude affords a sense of focus and survival. And so whenever and wherever life takes me, I sing and dance. I sing and dance when there's rain or fleeting morning kisses from the sun.  Singing and dancing in the rain, indeed!

© 2010 Sonia B. Sygaco

Sonia B. SyGaco is a fiction writer and holds a master’s degree in creative writing at Silliman University in the Philippines. Her creative works have appeared in Philippine Free Press and Philippine Graphic Magazine.

1 comment:

  1. I must buy that picture! where can I obtain it?


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