For most of my life, I would secretly long for rainy days.

I can trace this affinity with the rain to memories of my childhood. I was not a kid who went out and played in the streets. I would only realize it was raining from the sound of raindrops on our iron roof. It would start with a steady beat, and then you can make out whether the downpour would be heavy or not. Aside from the sound, there’s that constant, lingering image of me excitedly eating hot macaroni soup cooked by my grandmother and my mother. I would almost always scald my tongue. The bowl will soon be empty, which often coincides with my sibling bringing out my father’s stash of newspapers. The so-called first draft of history gets folded into paper boats, sailing away in ankle-deep floodwaters and lodging in one of the sewers in our street.

As I grew older, I saw these warm feelings about the rain with a tinge of anxiety and dread. Those childhood memories are in the dustbin now. My grandmother has passed on. My mother had to work because life is hard these days. Macaroni soup has been rare, and I could even count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten it in the past year. The paper boats we did will not survive in rainwater gushing into our street, waters so high it now flows over the pavement just outside our house. And you can’t make paper boats if you now read the newspaper on your tablet.

Once reassuring, the sound of raindrops on our roof has evolved into an ominous signal, with members of the household rushing to put pails and other containers to catch the leaks. My father would often wait out the rain before going up to plug leaks on our iron roof. It has come to a point when too much rain led to the collapse of some parts of the gutter in our rooms. It was a headache to clean up, not to mention being another unexpected expense.

A typhoon once downed trees in the city where electricity was out for two days, and we had to plug so many leaks on our increasingly old and rusty roof. While I hoped that would only be a blip, typhoons have become stronger in intensity in the succeeding years. During a recent typhoon, I went to sleep anxious as gusts of wind battered the roof, the sound of gentle raindrops giving way to the clashing and banging of battered roof pieces.

It was on a rainy Sunday afternoon almost two years ago when a life-altering moment happened. It had been wet the whole day, and as the skies darkened I treated myself to a film and a well-deserved nap. But I was awakened not so long after by my mother, with a face I would never forget. In our province up north, my father had dropped unconscious after suffering a heart attack. My relatives quickly drove him to the hospital and the doctors did their best, but in the end, there was nothing they could do to revive him. He was just 45 years old, and he was in the province to recuperate after years of heart problems.

It’s unsettling to see the things you grew up with being sullied with negative experiences. The “slow-down” mindset I associate with a downpour is a world away from the demands of my responsibilities. Without our father, it’s on me now to make sure that everything is alright when it rains. Taking a break is seemingly inappropriate for college life, where the current remote learning setup exacerbated how things seemed to be too heavy even for me, a student molded by extreme pressure as a campus journalist. And with what’s going on in our country, it’s hard to feel good about the rain.

Such conflicting feelings about an after-product of the water cycle made me reflect on the oddities of life. Like the rain, memories can either be light or heavy ones. Sure, we can forecast the rain but we cannot stop it. We can either enjoy and bask in it, walk with an umbrella, or wait for it to stop. We have no choice but to go through them. We’re going to get wet, anyway.
Do I still long for rainy days? Sure. When I have to take the pails out and rescue clothes from the unexpected downpours, the good and bad memories come rushing back. I can only reminisce with these memories while realizing that the setbacks of the past few years—such a stormy period in my life—will come to pass, too. Maybe the best is yet to come, but I might have to bring my umbrella for now.

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