I look at the window. Outside it’s raining, it’s pouring. I remember these were the first words in a long forgotten song by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer “No more tears (enough is enough)”. They go on singing about their boring love life and how they had dreamed to find the perfect lover, who in the end turned out to be like any other man. Doesn’t that happen to all of us at a certain time of our lives, I think. No novelty here and I look back at the rain beating against the window.
I used to hate the rain. Well, maybe not as a child. Back in Mozambique rainy days were neither grey nor depressive, it didn’t even rain for a whole day. The clouds would gather and suddenly the rain would pour down from the skies for some minutes and then it would stop and soon the hot sun would shine; the smell of damp earth would be strong and then all would be dry again and we’d run outside and play in the muddles while they lasted, or we’d dive into the warm water of the swimming pool and sit there laughing and feeling the rain on our faces…
When we left Mozambique everything changed and so did the rain. It became synonym of grey, dull winter days, long dreary nights, cold, wet walks to school in the dark of early winter mornings…and looking at the leaden skies for days and weeks that never ended. Since that first winter in Lisbon I began to hate the rain.
And now, for the first time, I welcome it.
A time of drought
I the last few years we have had little rain during the winter. Beautiful, sunny winter days, some cold, some less so, but little rain. Last year’s winter, in particular, we almost had no rain, and the summer was exceptionally long: in April (a traditionally rainy month) we had dinner outside on evenings that made us think it was July or August. And after this exceptional spring came a nice, warm summer that lasted until November. And even then the rain didn’t come, or only arrived timidly, for two or three days, barely reviving the dry soils of our country. Drought became severe, animals died without pastures and crops were lost. And suddenly everyone was worried about the shortage of water in some regions of the country, and what might happen in the summer if the rain would not come.
A horror story
I must say I was mildly worried until I read about the unbelievable story of Cape Town.
To cut it short, Cape Town, a city of more than 3 million inhabitants, has faced serious drought in the last few years and, if nothing happens ( i.e. if it doesn’t rain) the water supply will be completely cut in a few months. Yes, I had to read it twice and more times so that I might accept this idea; it will be the first city in modern times to be without water supply. As I see it, it will go back to the Dark Ages!
Taps will be just another useless device and according to this magazine every citizen, who will only be entitled to 25 l of water per day, will have to queue for it by the tank trucks that will be dispensing water all over the city. I also read that, in order to receive it each citizen will have to be there in person, so imagine babies and elderly or sick or disabled people queuing there on hospital stretchers, etc…If you think of it it seems like a scene from a horror movie, a “Walking Dead” episode without the zombies! Just imagine what will happen in terms of health, security…I remember a few years ago seeing a presentation on Internet that seemed improbable at the time but now comes to my mind: it showed horrible pictures of dry, wasted land and predicted that by mid 21st century wars will be not be waged for petrol, but for water. And then it showed another horrible picture of a woman with a shaved head, with a comment that there will be no water for hair washing…
Politicians: a vision is needed
I am acutely aware climate change is a reality and so should everyone. But as we look at a crazy world, where leaders of some countries say it is an invention, while others (such as those of Cape Town) certainly do not prepare for the future or they would not be in this extreme situation now, we only have two options left, as I see it: we either revive the old native Indian dances asking the gods to send rain – something I found fascinating in my childhood – or we simply have to pray for the rain to fall.
So that’s why now, when I see the weather forecast and they say it will go on raining; while the traffic outside is chaotic as it always happens when it rains, while I cannot go for a walk or have coffee at the terrace, still I welcome the rain, and hope it will go on pouring down. At least now the dams will be almost full and we’ll be able to go on living in a modern city with tap water. Oh, and in addition to praying for rain, I’ll also pray that we citizens should take more and more conscience that water shortage is an issue to be addressed; that we all contribute, not only through individual measures such as taking less – much less – long showers and turning off the water when we do ‘t really need it, but also demanding that our politicians, who in the end should be representing us, define a water strategy and start preparing for a future where water may be rare, but not unavailable. For without water, there is no life. And I, for one, certainly do not want to go back to the Dark Ages.