The Story The Rain and Wind Tell

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Africa is one of the oldest countries on the face of the Earth. The animals and people have been there a long time. One evening as the sun was sinking, with thunder clouds gathering, the crickets and the birds were calling, and the evening seemed as old as the world. Sitting outside his hut watching for the coming rain, Mwanga seemed just as old. His face was as lined and full of the marks of the sun and wind as the dry ground. He sat so still one could believe he had nowhere to go. Perhaps he had lived so long he had already been there!
His ancient face didn’t stop the children sitting with him to watch the sky change and the sun sink. Just then it started to rain. Slow big drops at first, that made a good sound hitting the dust. Mwanga’s face seemed to shine with some wonderful unshared vision, and he smiled with pleasure. “Tell us Mwanga.” the children said. “Tell us where your smile comes from.”
“The rain is speaking to me” he said quietly.
“The rain is speaking to him,” they said to each other. Then to him, “What does it say?”
Mwanga touched his hands to his head as if he hadn’t heard them. It was a salute, a movement of his spirit through his body, giving his wonder to the increasing rain. As if he were listening intently he said, “Listen. It is always speaking. Listen to what it is saying now. It is talking about all things that are wet and give life, like blood. It is talking about making rivers flow. It is telling me how thirsty the earth is after lying for so long in the sun.”
He paused and stretched out a hand into the falling rain. His thin sun blackened arm was soon wet, and his face shone again. “The rain says that the grass and trees have drunk the water deep from the earth’s breast, and the new seeds are waiting. It tells me that when things are born, it is water that gives them life. It is talking about the birth of all the things you see, and how they came out of the water. How the water was given, and with it came life, and we were born out of the water.”
Little Sandwa took his arm to make him look at her. “How did I get born from the water Mwanga?” she asked, her eyes wide.
Without taking his eyes from hers, Mwanga said, “The rain is telling me about your mother Sandwa. It says your mother has a great lake inside herself where all the small animals live. Mother loved you so much that when she looked into the lake inside herself she saw all the animals, and she chose you! She chose you, because she loved you so much!”
Then he looked at the others and said, “This is the story the rain tells us. How your mother looked into the lake and chose you. She drew you out of the water with her love and made you.”
Sandwa clapped her hands together and smiled.
But Denda, who was a little younger than Sandwa, shook Mwanga’s hand. He looked a little uncertain when he asked, “But where was I before my mother drew me out of the water Mwanga?”
Mwanga was quiet for some time, listening intently to the rain, now splashing on the wet compound. He shook his head slightly. “This the rain doesn’t tell me Denda. I must listen to the wind. Only the wind knows that story.” He listened again and the children with him, hearing the wind hitting the rain hard against the huts and making a noise in the trees and roof.
Mwanga held his thin arm out into the rain again, cupping his hand until it had a little water in it. He drank this noisily. Then he said, “The wind blows the rain and moves the trees. It lifts up the dust when the earth is dry, and blows the flies away from the cattle. You can watch it coming from a great distance, moving toward you across the brown earth, picking up things, playing with them and dropping them.”
He moved his hands and body as if he were indeed the sinuous wind. “It gathers all the things that life has left, the dust, the leaves and the bones of things, and it plays with them. Sometimes it lifts them high into the sky, and that is what happened to you” he said, looking at Denda. Then he picked Denda up to sit on his lap.
“There was a time long ago when you were like a leaf fallen from a tree, and the wind lifted you high into the sky. And the wind held you there for many seasons because it loved you, and wanted you with it there in the blue space between the clouds. But you got lonely. You wanted to see your mother and father again, and your brothers and sisters. You wanted to play with the dog and tease the cattle as you always did in the past. So the wind grew quiet one day, and just as your mother and father were lying together in love; just at that time when they were crying – you know how when they are loving they cry – ‘Ahaa. Ahaaee.’ Like this they cry.”
He looked at the children and they laughed and made the sound themselves like a laughing cry. Then Mwanga went on, “Just then the wind blew into their mouths. It blew you into your mother’s mouth, and she drew you in as she was laughing. And your father loved her so much he pushed you deep into your mothers belly, until you were anchored there. Then you became part of that lake until she drew you out. And that is the story of what happened to you before you were born. It has happened to you many times. You were the dust, and the wind played with you and lifted you into the sky until you were lonely again, and wanted to be with your mother and your father, your sisters and your brothers, and wanted to tease the cattle once more and play with the dog.”
The children looked at Mwanga as he finished and sat silently watching the rain. After some silence they all moved close to him and looked at the rain too.

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