The Rain Gods

​The arrival of the rains is truly a magical time in Malawi. Around early November, the rain gods begin to tease the country, gently tickling Malawi’s southern toes with light sprinkles. After nearly eight months with no rain, the softest touch of moisture is exhilarating. Though ephemeral, these early rains are a sign of change, a clue left by the rain gods that portend their certain return. Community members rush to prepare their fields, sculpting the land into long, elegant rows. Others begin fixing their thatch roofs, making sure to replace torn plastic and patch any holes. Meanwhile, the wispy rains tiptoe their way to the north and all dream of corn.
Then, one day in late November or perhaps early December, the “true” rains come. The rain gods open the sky, and out comes clean, fresh water that the earth eagerly accepts. The drops start gently, pitter-pattering on my metal roof. But soon they morph into heavy globs that crash down like cymbals above me and drown out the musings of Ira Glass. Outside, the leaves whip around their stems, clinging to the trees which they belong. The water comes in waves, blasting the roof and then retreating, blasting and retreating. Puddles begin to form. I stand on my back porch and survey what is usually a noisy, bustling scene outside of my fence. Yet everyone has retreated into their homes and all that remains is silence –a vacuum of noise that is not dissimilar from how it sounds to walk in the woods during a snowstorm. After ten or fifteen minutes, the rain gods tug a pulley, the sky closes, and the rain stops. 
Gradually, the village speaks again. Bike taxis that sought shelter wheel out of their hiding spots. Ox carts continue their journeys. Kids call out to their friends and rush to the road, puddle-stomping in glee and trudging through newly formed rivers. The village is already livelier than it was before the rain, yet no new plant growth has occurred just yet. I walk out to the street and join my neighbors in awe of the transformation. It’s ten degrees cooler and the ground is a deep brown color. We hadn’t had a real rain 250 days. I smile and suppress the urge to run through the water like a madman, but choose instead to walk slowly and intently around my homestead.
The following day, everyone is in their fields and it feels like Christmas morning because planting season has finally arrived. This means food in three short months. I watch a farmer balance on one leg, push their opposite heel into the dirt and toss maize seeds into the hole. They then flick some dirt over the seeds with their toes and shuffle down the row. Over and over, they repeat this motion. Over and over, over and over.
In a few days time, the ground is covered with beautiful, green grass. In a few days more, the maize begins to sprout and the land becomes speckled with ankle-high nsima machines. It feels like springtime, my favorite season in the US. I plant my own vegetable garden, spread flower seeds, and create one single line of maize to appease/entertain my neighbors. Finally, hot season has come to an end. I thank the rain gods. 


2 thoughts on “The Rain Gods

  1. Hi there Christina! What a great description of the rainy season! Just wanted to make sure you had heard about’s New Years Blog Challenge. It’s a great Third Goal activity, plus extra motivation to start the year strong on your blog. I’d love to see you join in this year! Just sign up by January 1: All the best to you in 2017!
    -Michelle C., RPCV and former PC “Blog It Home” winner


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