There was no calm before the storm.
It began with a surprisingly cool breeze that soon turned into a strong wind. Doors banged and window panes rattled. Dust clouds floated and whirled like mad dervishes. The people tried not to get their hopes up but the gleam in their eyes gave them away. The wind persisted, howling in their ears, whipping up the dust, scattering pieces of paper, making sails out of curtains.
A loud clap of thunder brought the neighbourhood to life. Babies began to wail and dogs barked madly. The women reached for the clothes hanging on the lines outside and shouted instructions to their husbands. Doors were latched, windows that had been pushed open as wide as they would go, were pulled shut. The children ran to the balconies to watch, aware of the sudden excitement in the air, the crackle and sizzle of it. A fork of lightning streaked down in the night sky – terrifying and captivating. Following close on its heels, another loud boom sounded from the skies. Even the most cynical husband and the most disbelieving wife now looked expectantly at the sky - the Nor’Westers might have finally found the way to their homes.
Big fat drops of rain fell onto the parched grey street. Slowly but yet so fast, the distance between the drops lessened and their frequency increased. It was actually raining. Slowly at first and then in a hard, dense sheet that pounded the ground beneath and raised a familiar smell of wet earth. The rain seemed to make up for its absence with a ferocity that looked unstoppable. The people stood on their verandahs and near their windows, peering out at the rain and feeling its spray on their faces. The street urchins rushed into the cascade, screaming and dancing for joy. The lightning made the raindrops glitter like diamonds as they fell.
The smell of the rain was like the earth’s sigh of relief.