To experience true rebirth of your world, wait for the rain in Kenya. Wait just long enough during the intolerably hot dry season and you, too, will be reborn.
We had a week of the most impossible, scorching heat, when the back of your neck feels like a skillet, and the tiny drops of sweat emerge just under the tip of your nose. You giggle quietly at other people’s red cheeks, unable to see yours because mirrors here are nonexistent, except for that really crooked one in the cafe (locally known as “hotel”) down the road.
You put a chair in line with the doorway inside of a little fenced yard, and feel truly blessed any time the wind comes through to tickle your face. Sometimes the sand comes in as well, in quick yet powerful twisters that finish their journey through the plains by hitting you mercilessly with millions of sharp little grains. They always seem to aim for your nose, ears and mouth. You ignore the red remains of dust on your clothes, but try to get rid of the unpleasant sandy feeling all over your skin. You rush to the water container and again, feel truly blessed, if there’s any water in it.
The past three days felt like someone up there has been experimenting with the oven in which we all were sizzling. “Lets turn it up some more, and just a little bit more, and see how they will handle it.” But body’s tolerance seems to be quite expandable. After some time you adjust to anything, including bathing in two inches of water, most often icy cold in the mornings; picking thorns our of your sandals, feet, and yes, head, after just a short walk through the bushy terrain; being touched a lot by curious kids, especially on your hair, nails and for some reason elbows; and of course, surviving the heat.
“You wait for the rains in Kenya like you wait for a dear friend, or good news from home, or well deserved rest after a long day of work.”
When the temperature gets so impossibly high, the rain is usually on its way, said my Kenyan sister, Soila. I trusted her Kikuyu vision and kept looking up in anticipation. I saw military helicopters several times instead. What are they doing here, so far away from civilization? “Looking for mzungus,” was someone’s theory. “Watching over the national exams,” someone else said as the bird passed over our school. Jokes aside, I didn’t like them there, practicing war craft (they were training, we later found out) over the heads of my little adorably innocent hooligans. My mind jumped back to the pictures of policemen walking the streets of Nairobi with AK-47s in their hands. I despise guns, no matter whose hands they are in. I love staying in the Maasailand partially because, other than that one training, it’s been extremely quiet and peaceful around here. Only it’s so hot.
I was going to school one morning and saw clouds gathering over the Ngong Hills. For the remainder of the walk I was trying to figure out whether they are dark enough to produce the rain. This is no joke; your body really longs for that humidity when deprived of it for so long.
You wait for the rains in Kenya like you wait for a dear friend, or good news from home, or well deserved rest after a long day of work. You seem to become one with the dry acacia trees, and even the goats that sneak into the yard, jumping up and down around the bucket, trying to reach a few drops of water at the very bottom of it. You feel that, similarly to those thorn hedges and that short grass by the side of the dusty road, you too will whither, come another dry day.
I was walking to my room after dinner and felt tiny droplets land on my skin. I stopped half way, letting them soak in, letting my lips savor the word “finally”. And then the sky gave birth to so much water, it seemed that our little house would take off and become a ship in this vast valley between the majestic dark hills.
The country is so beautiful here that even when daydreaming of rain on the driest days, I go out to the plains and embrace the sand. Still, I can’t wait to wake up and see the valley tomorrow. I bet it will be so much greener. I bet it will be reborn overnight.
This is an entry from my journal, marked “Wed. night, Nov. 5”. The ones that have “night” in them were all written in bed, under a mosuqito net, using the light from my torch. The title refers to Toto’s song, in case you haven’t guessed 🙂