rain in riyadh


illustrado

Several years later, from a taxi, you will see someone in a doorway who looks like her, but she will be gone by the time you persuade the driver to stop. You will never see her again.

Whenever it rains you will think of her.

― Neil Gaiman

The Psychopath’s Journal

1999

Riyadh

It rained. It was seven in the evening, McDonald’s looked like an empty ballroom and I was, as usual, suspended from the smell of burgers and fries as I kissed the credence of my sybaritic self. Looking holy in my uniform and slithery hair, standing at the single’s section, by the glass that separated Grease Paradise and The Wet Earth.

My eyes went to the parking lot where not more than six cars were lined up like teeth, buoyantly burnt out for the strings of thick rain falling from the firmament. Too bad those cars had no life to celebrate God’s piss (as I called it as a child), but then again, maybe they festered “in a way” being Arabian-driven automobiles (damn, wish Bjork can read this now!). I mean, angels barely wept (to put it more kindly) on this side of the planet, I fancy that even non-living things MUST experience the fundamentals of the rain spell. It is an aberration that the desert was not blessed with perpetual precipitation, but well, nature, by itself, is an aberration so I don’t think I can contest with that. Or perhaps I can. I will dance naked and stick my tongue out to the skies every month for more rain in Saudi Arabia! Oh I forget. Ooppss, that’s the fertility dance. There you go.

OK, so I stood there, juxtaposing the aroma (in my head, sniffing the unsniffable) of the black asphalt road outside and the way the earth smelled beautifully back in Zambales after a good rain. I then wondered where the voices of my sisters’ went after we played WAR under the madness of childhood with the agile caress of the wet season streaming down our faces while our hairs were tossed magically by the sprays of rainwater. Tasting it on our lips as we cursed the day away. Man, we were eternal! We were virgins. Our tempestuous tones lost to the Angelus, our mother’s spaghetti and the way Scooby Doo shuddered againts the makeshift ghosts of his mighty dog life. We spent hours boring each other by the porch, awashed, giving (inventing) names to sons and daughters that we’ll sire in time waiting for that smell. That spell. The smell of wet soil, that fertile smell, penetrating gloriously into the little punk in us. After we’ve taken our showers, I would go back to the porch and think. Well, thinking was actually a clumsy alibi for getting a whiff of the cloudburst’s epilogue but I would sit there, mosquitoes humming nicely around my pink feet and opened my lungs to smell the EARTH. A scent that I compared to an afterglow in bed, after a great coitus, as a teenager. Warm, musky, soothing. Perhaps the cosmos were playing tricks on me. They probably wanted me to nose the nom de plume of fornication at an age when a 50 centavo ice candy at Lola Ines’ store was already as good as an orgasm. Clever really. Me and my divirginized nose.

There were days back in high school when I thought the rain was a sign of someting deleterious happening. A stupid runny nose amid a periodical exam, massive attacks of bad dreams (I read a lot of Stephen King back then and they did slaughter my sleeping state much to my enjoyment!) or being stuck at home feeling lazy but obeying my mother’s constant Clean this-Clean that which was still annoying. Anyway, MOTHER RAIN was the ticket. I would pray hard for a storm all the frigging time! Even right there, singing the national anthem during flag ceremony every time the sky looked encouraging but merely because I wanted to elude Miss Mathematics teacher who enjoyed seeing me wet my pants off during boardwork. She knew I never understood Geometry and she made sure my ruffianistic aversions drowned in her sea of theorems and postulates. Damn, I loved that woman! She was terribly evil.

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Rain became proportional neon-like visitations when I lived in Manila. The sky must’ve starved and turned greyer and greyer as the years fretted by. Drizzles meant an unrequited love, storms a dying love and puddles in the street tobe remnants of my drunk and drugged self homing HIGH degrees of melancholy and insecurities and sleeplessness that generally defined my entire college years. Rain calmly reminded me of washing the debris of soul thirsts down the drain that records and remembers the bad times. The heart gets darker as you grow older as them relics would say. Prickly pundits! But it’s true. So shamefully true. Every intake, every fiber of lust, every puff, every surrender. Rain brought it all down, but then again, my favorite song changes everyday like my Yamen’s smile doesn’t always mean times are good.

And so I stood there, in a city called Riyadh where rain is scarce and missed. Piquant. A child. An adult. Dying to run outside and bathe the present grimes away, tumbling a little, to be baptized anew.

I am coming home in July and I can’t wait to meet the rain.

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