My Wish for Cloudy Skies

It is now been five months since the last rain and I have been hoping for it since it left. Almost as a way of signaling its grand finale, the season ended with a bang. It was one of the longest lasting rains I experienced here, continuing the entire day and into the night. It blocked all traces of the sky, which was instead filled with storms, wind and lighting. In retrospect, I see this as its last bow before exiting the stage but at the time it gave me the false hope rainy season was not yet finished.

Almost immediately after the rain the clouds slowly dissipated as well. The round, puffy cumuli I grew accustomed to were replaced with nothing. Just blue sky was left. Sometimes wispier, thin clouds would pass but it was always clear there would be no water. Rainy season was the first and only season I knew in Togo. The dryness hit me a striking change.

But… for the last few weeks, I noticed the thin clouds getting larger and heavier. Especially in the mornings, the sky would have the almost-rainy season allure I once knew. One day, I asked to one of my PCV neighbors (a term for the PCV’s closest by, in my case about 5 miles), “Have you noticed the clouds lately? It just might rain.”

We stared up at the sky for a few minutes, then determined the change was probably just my imagination. I recently started waking up earlier—between 5 and 6 a.m.—to take morning walks/run. When I started I would see them but around the time I finished, they faded away.

My hope for rain kept me going. Every morning I secretly hoped the sky would break open and let loose a hard, long rain like before. Without the big, puffy clouds to provide protection from the sun or rain water to cool the earth the weather heated up with each passing day. 

I turned on my fan on for the first time since arriving to Togo and recently began sleeping on my living room floor. The warning given to me by a COSing (Closing of Service) Volunteer became true. “There will be times in hot season when sleeping in your bed feels like you are wearing a sweater.” He told me.

Along with the heat came an added layer of humidity which again spiked my rain suspicions. A few times I spotted potential rain clouds in the skies—heavy, dark and gray. They would only pass throughout the day though, never stopping to give Togo a nice, cool shower. That is until yesterday (Feb. 19).

In the same fashion, these clouds returned and filled the sky, tinted a deeper gray. On my run back home in the morning, I would have been content if the sky just burst open as I passed down the mountain. I kept my hopes up all morning but nothing happened.

Then, mid-day was so hot I found myself with another fan-first. Not only had I just started using my fan to sleep at night, now I turned it on for the first time during the day. I let it continue until around three o’clock. By then the sun grants us some mercy and begins to settle in the mountains and things cool down.

I kept my hope that rain was coming and in an effort to confirm this I asked  a couple people from my village about it too. I was not just thinking it, but saying it, and would have probably would have started hallucinating soon if it did not actually come. Ironically, just a few minutes after I asked, come it did.

At first the specks filled the ground slowly, but the intensity began to build. The droplets grew in size; pounding on my concrete walkway, the small plants emerging in my garden, and any other surface it could find.

I guess this really got my hopes up, because I ran to put out two buckets and collect what water I could. However, in just a few stop and start cycles the rain was finished within twenty minutes. It was like the sky could not stand the heat any longer either and wanted to give us a few minutes of cloud cover and a cool ground—ever so briefly.

At night, the clouds came back and again I hoped for the rain. I did not want to go to sleep in case it showered but I was also delighted that I could sleep without sweating or using my fan. Instead of more rain, we got some of the most intense winds  in a long while. Lightning also came with it and lots of cool air.

Though the rain was not much, I was definitely content with all of this change in the weather. Still, a piece of my heart still longed for more. I had been waiting for the sky to rupture with water and all we got was a tease. When I checked my two buckets, there was not enough water to fill an 8 oz. glass between them.

The next morning there were clouds in the sky again, but only the thin, wispy ones like before. Then around 3 p.m., as the sun began to change positions, more of the big gray clouds came back from what seemed like out of nowhere.  Again, it rained like the day before but just a tad bit harder and a tad bit longer. This time, I decided to get out of the house to fully enjoy it. I walked in the rain to buy bananas, oranges, and then visited a group of weavers.

Once I got home, I decided this was an occasion to celebrate. I knew I would have another chilly night to sleep and for that I made soup. It may be a long while before I will have such an occasion so I threw together the best Minestrone I could make. I also decided to soak up the cool air by relaxing on my rooftop to gaze at the sky that had made my day.

Apparently, it was not done yet. There were groups of gray clouds off in the distance and they gradually moved closer and closer in. This time they were darker and more fierce than before and lightning was already brewing inside them. I did not want to get my hopes up and told myself that even without rain, another chilly night like yesterday would still keep me content. I stayed to watch the clouds move until the sun set and the beginning stages of darkness had taken over.

Again, I did not get my hopes up but received my wish exactly. The sky unleashed all that it had been holding back and water poured for almost an hour. The lightning, darkness and wind added to the moment. The rain was so loud I could barely hear things outside that were normally clear. I live surrounded by the loudspeakers of five mosques, but that day the calls to prayer were faint. Normally, I could not drown out the sound if I tried—and I have tried.

Behind my house, the grinding mill I have for a neighbor only seemed like a light hum. Where I could normally hear people talking outside my concrete walls was now silent. Not the boys sitting in the street, not any of my neighbors… no one.

The rain continued to pour all night, adding water to my garden and compost, but most of all adding a bigger smile on my face. I woke up the next morning to find it still continuing and my buckets now overflowing.

The sad part is, I know like the grand display rainy season had when it ended, this is probably the ending of Harmattan (windy season). The next two to three months ahead will be the dreaded hot season. I can not say I would not love to have another rainy day, but even if it does not come before the next rainy season, I will still be one happy girl.

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