Saturday, April 29, 2017

I Bless the Rains (and the Brass Bands) Down in Africa

The rain attacked fast, hard and loud this morning, so I got up early and went out on the front balcony to think about my problems. They're not so big in the scheme of things, but they're all mine. It always soothes my soul to write letters to distant friends, so I did some of that. People here face so much greater difficulties than I've ever had to, with such good humor, that it forces me to suck it up and not be a baby -- I leave that to Mukisa. Besides, he does it with much more charm.

I finished the letters and gazed out at the rain and the refrain from that Toto song came pounding into my head, damn it. I like the song alright, but do the radio stations have to play it 57 times a day? However, even that can't dampen my love of rain, and Uganda is really the place for rain lovers. It comes on hot and heavy, has its way with you, gives you a cigarette, shakes its ass, and skips out the door. "See you tonight, love," it says. "Get some rest so you're ready." Was rain always sexy or did we make it sexy with all our literary and cinema allusions? No matter. I like everything about it. In the words of Doc Watson, "Let it rain, let it pour, let it roll across the floor." I'd like to hear Doc Watson sing that Toto song. I think he'd kill it.

Rain or no, Africa doesn't stop. Just as I lapsed into feeling especially sorry for myself because of all my terrible problems, I heard a brass band approaching. We live on a secondary dirt road. Not exactly a parade route if you're looking for an audience, but there are scads of people everywhere here so audiences can quickly form just about anywhere. The band was knocking out some real John Philip Sousa stuff, heavy on the drums and tubas, very rousing. The rain intensified as the band approached; the band played louder. The band was good, good and loud, even drowned out the rain. It was from a nearby Muslim school, boys and girls, brightly dressed and in high spirits, playing their hearts out, importing a high-decibel load of fun into our very damp but beautiful neighborhood.

That was the second best part of the day. The first best part was when Sophie, our angelic nanny, showed up after being away for two days. I heard her knock and yelled to Mukisa and Ruth, "Sophie's here!" As I passed the room where they were lying down, I saw Muki go into a convulsive fit of ecstasy when he heard the name of his adored Sophie; it was like he was possessed, but in a good way. 

I could still hear the band as it circled the roundabout a couple blocks away, but I could not remember for the life of me what I'd been fretting about.

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