As she lay on the bed, surrounded by flowers, cards, and magazines, she remembered that Monday morning. No, she remembered right from Sunday night – the unendurable heat and her inability to sleep. She was so spoilt by the regular power supply in her street, she forgot what it was to have sweat running down your back and the air conditioner turned off. Sunday night slowly became morning and it never ceased to be a mystery, the swiftness of a night while asleep, and it’s dallying while you’re awake.
She remembered hearing the slow tap of the rain on the roof and the awareness of the cool breeze that accompanied it. Checking the time, she realized it was 4am and for once, she wished she took the self-employment pep talk of her secondary school Vice Principal seriously.
He was an old man who had his trousers almost at his chest and a cane that served as both a walking stick and a I-would-not-spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child weapon. His bitterness at life was unforgettable as he constantly extended his frustrations on the available backs and buttocks of the students at every little offence. Rumour had it that he used to be a popular sportsman until the accident that caused his limp, and he lost his career, fame and fortune. He never ceased to remind the students of the folly of laziness and the need for self employment as he spared not the rod. No one was ever bold enough to question his personal refusal to take his own advice.
All she wanted however was a good job which paid well. Dare to dream and seize the world at her finger tips, she never did.
She remembered not what she spent her days doing nor how she ended up a well-paid secretary, but she recalled being satisfied with her quiet little position until that Monday morning.
The slow chill breeze from the rain made her wish she could stay in bed all day and sleep. Yet, the rhythmic music caused by the march of the rain on her aluminum roof reminded her of her obligation at work that morning and how important it was for her to be present at exactly 7am for the important visit of the new head from the merger. With all the willpower any man could have, she pulled herself and went about the business of preparing for her day ahead.
Her frustration from the refusal of her car to start, she recalled clearly, and recollected throwing her heels in a bag, and rushing into the rain with an umbrella to catch a bus to work at the bus stop.
How she loved the cold and the wetness and wanted so much to just stand soaked by the downfall, neither dreaming nor thinking. She wanted to shiver in the cold, wet to her bones and maybe remember what living felt like. Yet, real life had responsibilities and off she hurried to the distant stop.
What she wore, the colour of her nails and even her own name eluded her, but how he looked that morning remained engraved in her mind, never to be forgotten. He wore a red and white shirt which was slightly wet from the rain and had with him a black briefcase. He rushed up to her and motioning at her umbrella said, “May I join you please”.
His smile felt like Christmas morning and she recalled smiling back and offering him her umbrella.
There was something in his voice and the way he laughed afterwards that made a mark somewhere in her soul. He had something she was missing in her life, she could see it from his enthusiasm and aura.
He told her his name.
It turned out they were going to different destinations and they had to separate at the bus stop.
She remembered him turning as he was about to enter his ride saying, “Thanks for the umbrella. You saved my life”.
The stranger in the rain left with something important she knew her life would never be complete without, and him she forgot not. All she wanted was to run to him, to understand how one person could have so much life in him.
This was all she recollected on her death bed as she laid surrounded by a sad looking old man holding her tight, two beautiful women, and three little children. She wondered who they were but couldn’t find her voice to ask.
The stranger who came back with his dreams, laughter, life and passion and taught her what really mattered, she remembered not.
The light he brought to her life alongside their two beautiful daughters, she remembered not.
Her grandchildren who wanted to paint, sing and play the piano, she remembered not.
But as her demented mind and soul slowly seeped out of her body, she saw the old man with tears in his eyes, tightly clasping her fingers transform to Ken. With a smile on her face, she died with just one name on her lips, remembering only the stranger, and that rainy Monday morning.
For Kenny, never to be seen again