“MaLe maLe maLe (rain, rain, rain)!“, she squealed in delight, as she tapped the window and danced a little jig. She loves watching the fat raindrops pound on the balcony floor and splash the glass doors. The first time she saw the rains, she couldn’t contain her excitement and insisted on going out to play.
Today, she didn’t ask to go out. She was thrilled. She clapped and ran around the living room, pointing outside to her dad. It was dad’s turn to experience her reaction to the rain and storm. They went to the kitchen window, to look at how the traffic on the road fared.
The skies have opened and boy, is it pelting down bucket-loads! The winds are crazy and a couple of things have disappeared from my balcony. Her dad later found my empty planters stuck behind the AC.
I used to love the rains. The pre-teen me would rush to the balcony of our little unit and stay in the wet as long as I could. Mum and dad never discouraged me from playing in the water. Occasionally, they would warn me about catching a cold if I stayed out too long. With age, the frequency of playing in the rain reduced. As an adult, I’d suddenly remember the younger days and play in the rain sometimes. It never lasted as long as the childhood days. I would get cold, worry about dripping on the floor as I walked inside or simply get bored. Then, I’d curl up with a cuppa and watch the rain fall.
Then the floods of 2011 happened. Touted as one of the top 10 deadliest floods in Australian history, it was traumatic to say the least. I started off my morning as usual, ignoring the storm warning message. Another storm, another day. Before long, the situation had changed. I was evacuating my unit, to move to a safer place. A friend, who offered me her son’s room, said her husband would drive me back home when things settled. Little did we know that would be at least a week later. The storm ravaged South East Queensland, causing billions of dollars worth of damage to life and property.
I was badly shaken. This was stuff you read about in the papers. It tugged at your heart-strings but it never affected you deeply enough that you couldn’t turn off the telly and continue living your normal life. The night before this happened, I was glued to the news all evening, watching the devastation and feeling horrified. Even a little scared. Apparently, not enough to prepare for what came next.
It was almost certain that I had lost my home to the floods. It was a rental unit on the lower ground level of a building. Four days later, after a mini adventure of sorts, I was able to visit my suburb and find that my house was saved. Only just. Relief washed over me. I spent the next day or two, volunteering at the ravaged areas, helping people less fortunate than I. My friend’s husband dropped me home a couple of days after that, as promised.
Soon, life returned to normal. That’s what I believed, until the next rains. Since then, I’ve been anxious every time it rained. An unexpected fear gripped me as soon as thunderstorms started. The SMS warning from the weather bureau made my heart skip a beat.
“How bad would it be?“, I’d wonder.
When I was 8 months pregnant, we had electrical storms in the city. It looked ominous. The thought of losing power scared me shitless. I didn’t even want to think of having to evacuate in my current state. With electrical storms, moving up to the 2nd floor of the apartment didn’t seem so safe anymore.
It’s 3 summers later now. I’ve been too busy to remember that there will be rains. I’ve wondered how my toddler will handle the heat. Then, it rained last week. I saw the message, felt a trifle concerned and rang the husband. Having never discussed my fears with anyone, expect once in passing with the husband, I put on a brave front. He was leaving work soon.
R and I were on Skype with my mum, when R suddenly got excited. She was absolutely delighted by quick, fat raindrops splashing the little puddles in the balcony. It was her first experience of the rain and her joy was boundless. I was so preoccupied being her mom that I forgot my own feelings towards storms.
This afternoon, without warning, there was another hailstorm. A massive thunderstorm, with winds that got me worrying about my windows and flung things in my balcony. R got super-excited as usual. She didn’t ask to go out this time but she watched the rains, with her dad, enjoying the splash, swish, flash and boom from behind the safety of the glass doors.
It was impossible not to feel the positive vibes. For the first time in 4 years, I took pictures and videos of the rain. In spite of some vague concerns at the back of my head regarding power cuts, dangerously swaying trees, flying debris, I wasn’t scared. I enjoyed the rain. I really did.
Before long, my Facebook wall was flooded with updates of the fiercely windy hail storm and poor visibility. Videos and photographs of uprooted trees, damaged cars, flooded roads, golf ball-sized hailstones filled up the newsreel. Apparently, the unannounced storm had caused a fair bit of damage. It was a king-sized thunderstorm but I went through the experience like a normal person would. Without being crippled by fear. Who knew that being a parent does that to you?
I feel bad for those who suffered damage and sorry for people who are still trying to get home, hours later. However, the comfort in knowing that I’m okay, not just from the storm but mentally, is incredible.
“We need to prepare for the storm season”, I said to R’s dad.