The rainy season was late. Before Christmas, the President was gearing up to ask everyone to pray for the rainfall this country depends on to survive. Any prayers were answered a couple of weeks ago in the form of a tropical cyclone that formed out in the Indian Ocean. Malawi may be a landlocked nation, but the arms of a category 5 are long and when one of them decides to hug the coast of South East Africa, it’s time to bring in the laundry and break out the gumboots.
The rivers and seas didn’t boil. The dead didn’t rise from their graves. Dogs and cats weren’t living together. But in a country where the bricks are made from sand, two solid days of torrential rainfall and high winds are bound to cause some chaos. Floods. Muds. Collapsed walls. A nice dose of mass hysteria to kick off the New Year.
I was one of the fortunate ones. My village is not as flood prone as some. There was plenty of water on my floors. My bedroom walls began to seep. I spent two days in the dark eating peanut butter and bread and wondering when the hell it was all gonna stop. It was a small price to pay. When it was all over, the President declared my district a disaster zone and the Overlords asked me to (temporarily) leave my house.
Technically, one could call it “evacuation”, but I feel that word is a bit dramatic. There was no rooftop rescue. I did not have to “get to da choppa!”. During the storm, the only real danger I was in was running out of peanut butter.
I returned to my house after eight days. There was still water on the floor. My bedroom smelled as musty as my grandmother’s basement. But all the walls were intact and the tin room hadn’t blown away. Others were not so lucky. A couple hundred lives lost. A couple hundred thousand people displaced. A couple hundred million dollars damage.
For me, it’s back to business as usual. For much of the southern region of Malawi, the cleanup is just beginning.
There is a saying in this part of the world, “All days are not Sunday”, which basically means that all days are not happy days. All days are not joyous. There will be rain. There will be floods. But the ever-resilient people of Malawi will soon be rebuilding.
All days are not Sunday. It’s a shame that all the new bricks will be made from sand, though. Especially with three months left in the rainy season.