Tue | Jun 22, 2021

A Rainy Night in Georgia

Published:Saturday | May 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Tony Deyal, Contributor

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, but the rain in Port-of-Spain is, in Trini terminology, 'own way', or as stubborn as a burro, and in this sense resembles the legendary thousand-pound gorilla.

What is so burro-cratic about the creature? It relates and reverts to the riddle, 'Where does a thousand-pound gorilla sleep?' The answer is, 'Anywhere it wants.' So while it was raining goals in Spain's La Liga to the extent that it was unReal Madrid and Barcelona was Messi, in Port-of-Spain it was raining cats, dogs and 'bucket ah drop'.

Well, unless you had a bucket as big as a barrel, you would have been at a loss for words or an appropriate description of the quantity that was contained in a single drop, far less the volume of water, in each salvo and fusillade. Worse, only if the rain in Spain fell mainly on an Iberian plane would it be like the torrents in 'town', or 'tong', which is Trini for the capital city.

I was in an area of Port-of-Spain that is in the toehills of the foothills of Trinidad's Northern Range. It is like Papine on the way to Irish Town and the Blue Mountains. From here, the rain creates rivers of the city streets. The streets are like wadis in the Sahara - every heavy shower creates a flash flood of garbage, old spring-filled mattresses and innumerable plastic receptacles.

When the rains first came, they were Oklahoman - they fell gently on the plains. Then they moved to the Internet and became torrents. The playground in front of my apartment became a Pirate Bay because of the continuous downloads.


As I watched the rain accumulate, I thought back to my childhood when we used to run outside naked and play in the rain. It was as joyous as the umbrella sequence in Singing In The Rain with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, effervescent and hugely enjoyable while the raindrops kept falling on our heads.

Later on, as adolescents, we looked forward to the rain while playing football. It was like a mud ballet - running, skating a mile and taking a player's legs from under him, carrying him, the ball and yourself into touch. Then as adults enjoying what Trinis call 'weather for leather' that has nothing at all to do with the durable and flexible material created by the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin. Hide, perhaps, because you need the privacy, but you have to be within the sound of the rain.

This is what I miss. I am on the ground floor of a three-storey concrete and steel building and spend most of the day locked away in a room with shuttered and screened windows. For most of my life I lived under 'zinc', or galvanised, iron roofs. The rain falling on them was first a cacophony, then as it grew on me, a symphony, and finally a lullaby. I love the sound. It brings back so much of my childhood to me. Regardless of how noisy it is, the rain on the hot tin roof soothes and comforts me.

It is only when I opened the door a few centimetres and peeped outside I could hear the roar, louder than the nearby zoo, louder even than King Kong when the airplanes kept coming at him. Night-time was double dark punctuated by the occasional shimmer from a street light when the ferocity lessened and the rain came down in slivers instead of shafts and streams.

I imagined Ray Charles out there with Georgia on his mind and a simple song on his lips, 'But it's a rainy night in Georgia, baby/ It's a rainy night in Georgia/ I feel it's rainin' all over the world/ Kinda rainy now and it's raining all over the world/ ... and it's raining all over my soul.'

It is true that when you're locked indoors alone with rain falling continuously, you can feel lonely. I generally try to read, or when I can't or don't feel to, I remember jokes and puns and laugh to myself. I even try to counter Ray Charles with my version of 'I Believe' - I believe that every drop of rain that falls/a flower grows/and a roof leaks/and a cricket match gets rained out/and a car gets rusty ...


As the rain fell, I remembered the joke about a man who had a fantastic house off the Jamaican north coast. In addition to the main area, it had two wings. Then when a hurricane came, sadly, the house flew away. Then there's the lateral-thinking puzzle: 30 people are sheltering under an umbrella, how many of them get wet? None. Who said it was raining?

There was the case of Harry, an Englishman who got a job as a weatherman in Dubai. Try as he might, he never got the forecast right. Eventually he was fired and had to fly home. When his family asked him why he had returned so soon, he replied, "The climate didn't agree with me."

Then the jokes the kids delight in. What doesn't get any wetter regardless of how much rain falls on it? Water. What goes up when the rain comes down? Umbrellas. Then there's the little kid who went to school wearing a single glove like Michael Jackson. The teacher asked him what he was doing wearing only one glove. He replied innocently, "Well, I was listening to the news and the weatherman said it was going to rain, but on the other hand it could remain quite dry."

Eventually I called my wife in Antigua and said, "I have bad news and good news. Which would you prefer to hear first?" So, as she requested, I gave her the bad news. "The bad news is that we're flat broke - we have no money left in our account." She replied, "If we don't have any money, we can't have any good news unless you get a job." So I laughed and said, "The good news is that we were so broke that we couldn't save for a rainy day." Then I added, "Because if we had any money saved, the last few days here have been so rainy that I would have been forced to spend it all."

Tony Deyal was saying that you have to be careful if you go outside after it rains cats and dogs - you might step into a poodle.