paper boats

Almost half an hour ago I was in the bedroom, picking out a sweater from the closet. It’s a chilly night, and I bet it’s freezing outside. It’s trash day tomorrow and I have to take the trash out. I doubt I’ll be up early enough to catch the garbage truck if I don’t do it now. That was my train of thought before it changed route and I started thinking about the story I had just finished working on as I was putting the sweater on.

I was deep in thought. The story had opened floodgates in my head; memories had come streaming in. I hadn’t realized I was thinking until the door flung open and my baby sister walked in.

“You wouldn’t believe what I’m writing about,” I beamed. But she knows me well; she knew I wouldn’t disclose anything until it’s complete. She didn’t ask what it was about.

“Me?” she teased. We both laughed. She has asked me that a couple of times before, and everytime she does I always give her the same reply, “what’s really interesting about you that I can actually write about?” again we laughed. We joke an awful lot.

Then a thought came to mind. “The origami thing?” I blurted. She looked at me, prodding… that was cue for me to expound. I did…

“You were really a baby,” I taunted her, “guess it would be ok if I wrote about it now…”

It’s a cloudy, starless night, but the incandescent pole mounted street lights have the place well lit; it’s hardly dark. As I carried the black trash bag out my mind drifted to that rainy Saturday. I was nine at the time and my baby sister was almost five. My parents had gone to my cousin’s christening at the Basilica, which was more or less a forty five minutes’ drive from home.

We didn’t have a house help at the time; both of them had left within weeks of each other. One had supposedly gone back to college and the other had left because her dad was sick. My big sister on the other hand had joined boarding school earlier that year; so me and my baby sister were all alone in the house. We were home alone, without any adult supervision.

We couldn’t think of a better day to live out our wildest fantasy-playing in the rain.

When my parents were leaving that afternoon my mom had repeated the words we had already gotten used to: not to leave the house. “Be good”, she had added, “I don’t want to find the house in a mess”.

We smiled radiantly, promising to be good. It was drizzling when they left, but a while later the heavens opened. I don’t remember what month it was, all I recall distinctly is that it looked unusually dark and the rain seemed to fall with a vengeance. It poured for hours without ceasing. My sister and I had nothing better to do I suppose, as we stood by the window starring outside, watching the water level on the ground rise rapidly.

Suddenly, in the midst of that boredom it hit us; there was so much water outside. That gave birth to a brilliant idea; we could float miniature boats on the water. We were thrilled; but there was just one paramount glitch, we didn’t have boats.

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Neither my sister nor I had ever heard that saying before, but before long we were busy tearing up newspapers, making origami boats. At first we tore papers from our exercise books, but then we realized those were small, so we settled for the newspaper ones as they had a relatively bigger surface area.

The cats were away, now the mice would have the time of their life, playing in the rain.

Without anyone to stop us, we went outside to sail our origami boats in the flood waters. After a while we realized that the water was somewhat still, and that rendered our boats immobile. Our excitement started waning. This was our once in a lifetime opportunity to play in the rain, we weren’t going to waste it on boredom. We went back to the house to regroup.

While I was busy racking my brain on the next fun thing to do out in the rain, my sister’s eye caught something interesting; at the edge of the red tiled roof there was a rain gutter, which wasn’t attached to a downspout. Over time, the water falling from it had ejected soil particles, consequently forming a small crater on the ground beneath it. Now the crater was filled with water.

Excitedly, she took her clothes off and dashed out; virtually naked. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I rushed to the door to catch a glimpse of the unbelievable sight. I envied her guts. My sister didn’t seem to have a care in the world. It was raining, and she was going to have all the fun that was humanly possible at the time. She tried to get in the paddle, but to her disappointment she realized it was too small for her. That didn’t dampen her spirits regardless; she stood there and had the rain fall on her bare skin. Joyfully, she held out her small hands to catch rain drops. She seemed ecstatic.

“Get back in the house”, I called out to her. “Mom will find us outside”. She just shrugged. I just stood there and watched. I knew better than to go after her because then she would engage me in a ‘catch me if you can’ race.

She didn’t seem bothered by the idea of getting sick from the extreme cold; it was fun. She was playing in the rain, and she was comfortable in her own skin, literally; that is all that mattered…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s