When my great-grandpa was in his eighties, his second wife died. My grandma, finally free of this wicked stepmother who kept her and her children away from her father—it’s a long story—swooped in and stole him away, bringing him to the Philippines, where my mom’s family lived at the time. A former park ranger in the deserts of southern
I feel like him sometimes. The rain here is different, so sudden and heavy that it stuns me into silence: standing in front of a class of eleventh graders, writing on the whiteboard, uncapped marker in hand, I stare out the window at the downpour, half unbelieving it’s real. How could the sky hold that much water?
And then, just as quickly as the rain came, it goes again. Just when I start cursing myself for not bringing an umbrella, wondering how best to keep my shoes dry while walking through ankle-deep puddles, I glance outside again and bam! the rain stops! It’s like God turns on a faucet and then, finished brushing his teeth, responsibly switches it off, sure to check for any stray drips. God, like my great-grandfather, doesn’t want to waste water.
Even stranger still, the sun comes out again, almost immediately. The streets flood, but that’s no matter: everyone rolls their pants up to their ankles and ventures out from under store awnings, ready to resume normal life. The air smells fresh, heavy, and alive, the smell of moist dirt and growing plants; it’s one of my favorite scents in the world. I cap my marker and turn back the class. “All right,” I say, smiling. “Who knows what monsoon means?”