3 May


rain photo: Rain lisalindsay0087rain.gif
In that vast hinterland that we call pre-history there lived many generations of Owongos, and they all had two things in common. Firstly, they were all my distant ancestors in an almost spooky unbroken line that DNA tests have confirmed and secondly they were all, to a man vastly intelligent despite the bleak times they lived in. Oh – and if you want a third thing they have in common it is the simple fact they enjoyed scribbling on cave walls, telling their thoughts to the future, marking their present with charcoal and mud.

If you chance on a news item concerning a newly discovered cave drawing you can be reasonably sure that one or other Owongo did it.

And it is via the gift of these cave drawings that I have transcribed reams of accounts of the brilliance of my distant ancestors. And I am so proud of them and set them down elsewhere!

One particular Owongo managed to actually embed something glorious into my DNA. It happened like this.

The day outside his cave was dark despite the fact that the sun ought to have risen a good hour ago, but as neither hours nor ways of measuring them were known back in the dawn of time, Owongo was still in his bed of furs, lying on an assortment of skins and hay that he shared with his woman and half a dozen rodents.

Outside the rain was battering down, falling in virtually solid sheets from the heavens.

He knew what rain was, of course. Such things as superstition and attributing natural phenomena to either the anger or pleasure of a rich assortment of gods lay in the future. Owongo and his people had long worked out that there was a cycle which involved the evaporation of water from rivers and lakes (he’d never seen an ocean or he would have included those in his list of wet places) culminating in it forming clouds and descending from on high when it was ready. That was his science, and it made excellent sense to him. Gods didn’t.

What he particularly loved was the sounds it made. To start with, there was the rhythm of a steady downpour, something like the beating of a beautifully tuned drum partially deadened by the weight of the leaden skies. Then there was the melody – a drip here, a tinkle there when a rivulet found a new way from the sloping hill above his cave, all manner of watery notes that seemed to form a coherent melody.

But it wasn’t the music with its almost mystical rhythms as such that he particularly loved but the way he felt. He was in the dry. Not even the most damaging gust of a wild wind could blow the least drop of water into his corner, where he lay curled up with his furs and menagerie. And for once the rats and their rodent comrades were still, probably also enjoying the dull morning in much the same way as he was and probably hoping he wouldn’t rise yet, at least not whilst it was so wet outside. So he was aware of the very miracle of his comfort, and all this was added to by the heat radiating from the slumbering Mirumda who added to the rainfall overture with an accompaniment of her own resonant snores.

Of such moments as that morning is Heaven crafted! And what more could eternity offer than the security and safety of a warm bed on a rainy day? Unless, of course, the skies decided to create a counter-music via the gift of thunder and the light-show of lightning? But such delights were considerably less common, and on most occasions, including this one, Owongo had to weave just the emotions he felt listening to the rain into his DNA.

And he did just that. I know he did, because it’s still there.

When I was a small boy I became aware of it. There had been a dreadful war, the most evil in history, and the world was recovering from it. So the concept of peace and harmony was a special one and even managed to seep into the psyche of this small boy as he lay in his bed and could hear the rain beating on his window and juggling with itself as it danced down nearby drainpipes.

And he knew, did that small-boy-me, that somewhere in the deepest mists of time, somewhere when the world was a simpler place, another soul had listened to that rain and whispered loving words to his sleeping woman before stirring the odd rat with a moving toe and sleepily saying how much he loved it….

Years pass, of course, and one of the things that time has done to improve the lot of mortality is devise double-glazed windows. Never again will I scratch my name in the film of ice on the inside of my bedroom window! But the downside of that undisputed improvement is the way the rain has been hushed. Yet this morning I heard it, rhythms beating just outside our home, and something inside me squirmed as Owongo’s DNA wriggled and jiggled and wanted to be free, if only for a precious moment…

© Peter Rogerson 03.05.15


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