When it rained finally it was a thunderstorm. Upstairs the dance class had stopped abruptly at the first sound of thunder. It mysteriously coincided with a sound I remembered well, a stick flying across the room and landing like a lash across bare ankles. The wooden stick rapped in a rhythm of one-two-three one-two-three for nearly a half hour before the first step was out of place. I thought of the girl, sweating profusely, a drop hovering over an eyelid, miserably trying to catch up with the rest. Dance, as if the rains needed anything else to set it off. What happened first? Did her step falter because of the thunder or the thunder came as if in casual annoyance at the mistake?
None of the lights were turned on in the house, no one had expected the darkness to come on so suddenly. I stared at the fan expectantly for over seven minutes before the electricity went off. Seven minutes of thunder, lightning and the shrill sharpness of the wind. Even the trees refused to dance in the wind. Not a drop of rain yet. They should continue dancing, maybe then it will rain. But the darkness had stopped everyone in its step, motionless. The fan stopped with a low dull creak and then the distant sound of a generator in the factory nearby. No one would go home until it rained and stopped, so they would continue working into an evening swiftly turning into night.
Creeping across the wall hesitantly, a lizard made the first sound which was immediately engulfed with a new round of thunder and lightning. The mandate was clear. Silence. I looked outside and could see only blackness, no light filtered through except when lightning struck. It hadn’t started raining, so I saw no need to shut the windows. The air was so heavy, if I completely stopped breathing I could almost hear the puddle of sweat the girl above had left. The wait for the rain came with an unbearable thirst, I finished half a bottle before good sense kicked in. I could not brave the rickety narrow staircase that led to the kitchen to get more water. Once the rain started it would not end for hours, perhaps the whole night. A rain that held everyone captive even in its absence.
Abruptly, the ceiling fan moved for twenty seconds before it stopped. Again the dull creak of the fan giving up, again the roll of thunder. I looked outside and saw that the lizard had managed to crawl outside through one of the three holes in the mosquito mesh. The air must have been too heavy inside the room for the creature to stay alive till the rains.
I tried keeping my eyes closed, in a desperate attempt to doze off and forget about the heat. When it would start raining, the heat would break and I could sleep through the night without staring at the unmoving fan achingly. It must have been a few hours before I woke up, or perhaps a few minutes, I couldn’t tell. No sign of the rain, and the thunder and lightning had stopped. I didn’t know whether the darkness remained because of the heavy clouds, there was no telling of the time. The factory workers might have been long gone or perhaps the generator had stopped working, because the silence had impossibly increased. I made a rash decision to drink the rest of the water, I reasoned it had to be late into the night and I would fall asleep again and wake up only in the morning. A morning with electricity, the cool weather after the rains and water.
The last dropped of water and it rained. Not a drizzle first, after a few hours of warning it had come in a downpour. It brought with it the thunder and lightning which had disappeared. I wondered whether everyone had stayed in the same place all night long, dancers frozen in motion. Would they dance now that the silence had broken?
I looked out of the window again, the night suddenly lit with energy. I would have missed it if I had looked out a split second later, because that’s all it took. A flash of lightning and the branch broke. I caught a brilliant green, a single mango attached inseparably to the branch. They say if you dream of raw mangoes, you are impatient.