April 5, 2015: When night comes…
December 30, 2014: It always rained.
FINALLY THE RAIN
Finally the rain.
Late again, because it’s always late now; after almost two years and it came at last, sweeping down from the mist-top hills, and it fell as a long forgotten blessing on the town.
And we danced in the streets, all of us, if dancing is spinning from puddle to puddle, and kicking up our heels, and our heads tilted back to drink in the sky and our arms held wide enought to embrace the world. And granma Punita fell to her knees and gave thanks and the water pooled about her skirts and she could not get up again without help.
And Safia was laughing and that was as good as the rain.
And pignose frogs that had slept in the sweated dark under rocks, awoke and they gave up a throaty song of rejoicing. And dead fish came back to silver-kick life. And the whole place sucked and sucked on the rain, and flowers splashed into extravagant bloom, yellow and purple and red; and underneath the whisper and shout of rain was the sound of the forest growing.
And there were tears, only they were tears of joy and could not be seen anyway, not in all that rain, all that wonderful rain, and it looked like tears on all the faces.
And Nandi, the dog, chased his own tail and barked and lay on his back and his tongue was never so pink before and he drank so much he was later quietly sick.
Mama set out all the bowls and jugs in the garden, and empty bottles and pots, and granma Punita’s best china teacups and the china saucers, too, and they were not any of them long in filling. And Papa looked at the mango plants and he swears they bore the buds and flowers that would one day be fruit, and he swears this happened before his very eyes, and none of us doubted but what he said was true.
And Safia was laughing, did I say that already? Safia, who had no words for anything, and she sat in the dark of indoors, and she scowled at the sun and made black faces to scare house crows. The same Safia that I sang to sleep on prickle-heat nights and she never gave me thanks or caresses or kisses, and she was laughing and that was the best thing of all; and I laughed too, and I took a kiss that was not given and still Safia laughed.
→Thanks again to Lindsay for letting me bring this work to you. Want more? Go to Lindsay’s page: “Just a Writer’s Page.”-PMc←
April 22, 2013: Finally, the rain.
On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens two days ago, Philip Hartigan, artist, lover of books and words and me (he’s my husband, after all) wrote this really fine post about the great author’s work and effect on the life of a young artist.
The Rain on Our Hard Hearts
posted by Philip Hartigan on Google+, February 7, 2012
Two hundred years ago today, Charles Dickens was born. Fifty years and seven days ago, I was born. The connection between those two facts is something that wasn’t unusual, I think, for a British person growing up in the 1960s or earlier, in that the stories and characters of Dickens’ novels were still a part of the fabric of the popular imagination. The imprint was starting to get fainter, but it was still visible. I can still remember the children’s versions of the stories in the school library, the adaptations on the BBC and ITV, and the way that my solidly working class and undereducated grandparents would casually drop references to Dickens characters and phrases into their conversation: Something will turn up. He’s a real Bill Sikes. Please Sir, can I have more? As creepy as Uriah Heep. Bah, humbug! The musical “Oliver!” was premiered two years before I was born, and the movie when I was six. That’s a sign of how current Dickens still was: the musical came about, and the film was made of it, precisely because the creators knew that the audience would respond to the story, would still know what it referred to.
Some of that was nostalgia, of course—a very particular costume drama nostalgia which later became redirected into adapations of E. M. Forster and Jane Austen novels. All of it left its mark on me, left a deep love of Dickens writing, which lasted through adolescence, when Great Expectations was one of my favourite books (and still is); lasted through college, when no amount of sneering by teachers of literature at Cambridge could completely kill my affection for Dickens; and well into adulthood, when I set myself the goal ten years ago of reading all of Dickens’ books that I hadn’t yet read (it took me two years).
He has limitations: verbosity, letting his comic scenes run on well past the time when they’re still funny, the stock characters that seem to have stepped out of a stage melodrama (the mild and fainting heroines, the moustachioed villains, the last-minute saviours), the elaborate, coincidence-filled plots. But his good qualities are good enough to ensure that people will always return to him: the vivacity of the descriptive passages, the astonishing variety of his characters, the intensity of his first person narratives (particularly David Copperfield and Great Expectations), the majesty of his long sentence forms, and the compelling sense of scene. Above all, there is his warmth, humanity, and feeling, expressed in passages such as this one from Great Expectations, which I committed to memory when I was fourteen years old and recite whenever I can:
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.”