Saturday To Saturday: When It Rains It Pours

When it rains, it pours. This was my life's state for eight days within the last month. I've been so speechless that for the first time, I feel compelled to write down what I've been through, at least for this eight-day period. I'm finally fine. No one died. I guess it's one of those series of experiences that makes one stronger. The eve of the first Saturday, Friday the 19th of June. I call an installer from the DSTV office to fix my decoder. We fix time. He's late and smiling about it. I tell him I dislike tardiness. He replaces the LNB on the dishpan with a fairly used one from his work bag, starts the set-up process, tinkers about it for a while but it doesn't work. It gets late and he has to beat the 8 pm Covid19 curfew. He shows me how to go through that exact process again and promises it would work. He gives me his account details to pay afterwards. I try it after a few hours. Same old same old. I don't make the payment. I go to bed. At 4:35 am on Saturday, the rain starts. As usual, I wake up uneasy as the sound of rain unsettles me these days. You see my neighbour and I moved into our compound in October of last year, and the landlord conveniently neglected to disclose to us that the house gets flooded in the rainy season owing to bad drainage system. Because of repair costs, the landlord opts for a “temporary” alternative to drill through the wall of a neighbour's uncompleted building to ease out the water collecting in our sloped compound. Behind this building is an unrestrained water pathway. Now the water flows, but my neighbour and I fear that when the rain gets a little serious, water would flow back in from the outside, and this time, it would be more disastrous coming in with all manner of dirt. Well, that's exactly what happens this Saturday morning. You see, I have a new ritual of apprehensively watching the rain collect at my steps whenever it rains. I'm happy seeing water let out from my compound and soon enough the rain stops. But in seconds, the flow back starts and clean flood quickly turns brown in my very presence. My heart jumps to my mouth, sinks to my stomach and does a triple Arabian back up my mouth. I freeze and can't get to my generator because I've never put my feet in unclear water. The neighbour boy goes in, lifts my generator and takes it to the neighbour's upstairs building. But this is just the beginning. The water level rises with speed past my two steps climb and gets through my door. This is when I unfreeze, run in and get my certificate bag and phone, swallow my fear, sink my feet and heart into the murky water and run to my neighbour's upstairs to keep them. Then the move from my apartment starts in this frenzy with the rain on our backs and the murky flood at our knees, with the help neighbours. This very afternoon, I go house hunting. The housing agents show all manner of funny apartments. One of the agents takes me to a basement apartment where I have to bend to get in the door. As soon as I walk in, I slightly raise my arm and touch the ceiling. I'm only 5'7”! I feel exactly coffin claustrophobic. If I take the apartment, I will have to spend every waking hour convincing myself I'm still alive. I finally find an apartment and move in on Tuesday. While house hunting, the DSTV installer calls. I inform him his procedure didn't work, explain my predicament and ask to reschedule. He calls again, and again on Wednesday asking to be paid. Pay for a job not done! Who does that? Thursday, I go to the market for supplies. I use a kerchief for a mask. I secure the mask over my nose and mouth as a policeman waves me on. I get to the market and I'm promptly apprehended by men in uniforms for not wearing a face mask. Funny right? I'm very surprised as I can still feel the kerchief across my face. These arresting officers have their uniformed fabric masks around their necks like some fashion statement with their noses and mouths exposed as they bark and hurtle me to their mobile station. I point out that their noses and mouths aren't secured like mine, but they insist that kerchiefs cannot serve for masks. At the mobile station, an officer with no mask anywhere on her body barks at me to get into the vehicle. I point out that she isn't wearing a mask and that her colleagues use theirs as necklaces. You see, this infuriates them more and they bundle me into the vehicle. I'm asked to pay under the table to be released. No sir! I make calls and get a lawyer. Before they let me go, they search my phone for any incriminating files. This Saturday, my now old neighbour sends me a video clip of the freshest hell. The drainage is no longer blocked. Oh no! You see, the unrestrained murky flood has claimed the once blocked drainage and is making the compound its new abode.

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Bernard Jan

Award-winning, multi-genre author, novelist,...

Zagreb, Croatia