He was a nice guy; kindhearted and very friendly. He was always smiling and for a guy his laugh was adorable. He had a likeable personality and though his neighbours didn’t know much about him, they considered him a good man. Everyone called him Ben, at least that’s what he told them. It wasn’t really a lie, he just felt that the Benedetto name on his ID was a bit too long for acquaintances. Ben was also easier on the tongue for his friends from work so it stuck. Though he didn’t have too many friends, he was very loyal to the few that comprised his circle. Once in a while, he got teased about the ‘Benedetto’ name but it didn’t worry him much. Everyone got their fair share of teases anyway.
Ben lived in a tin walled shack a few miles away from his place of work. He worked as a guard and though he had saved quite some money to help him move out, he didn’t want to do so just yet. He had gotten used to the environment anyway and he didn’t mind staying there a few more months if the savings would help put him through school. He longed to get a college education and he hoped to get skills to permanently get him out of his shack. It was a far fetched dream but he held on to it; it ‘drove’ him to work every evening.
Though Ben was an agreeable fellow, he always had an issue with people preferring that the rains fell at night. It was understandable seeing that nighttime formed his working hours. His heart sank every time he heard raindrops hitting the roof of his tin house. He wanted to be happy about the rain because of all the blessings it brought with it but he couldn’t. There were few things that brought him as much agony as rain did.
The mere thought of rain scared him. The tin house that he called home was nothing near the mansion that he had wanted to live in as a boy. The roof was always leaking despite his efforts to repair it and when he replaced it, water began to flood his house since the door frame was not well constructed. He couldn’t do much about the poor flooring so he just ensured there was nothing on the floor to be swept away by the water.
Rain reminded him of how far away from his goals he was. Every drop that hit him seemed to bring him some sort of emotional pain. It scarred him. This wasn’t the life he had dreamed of and though it wasn’t entirely his fault, it pained him that he had to live with it for a while.
Ben faithfully reported to work every evening regardless of the rain. His master appreciated his work conduct and helped him with his college dream by buying the books he needed to prepare for it. They had a good relationship and though they didn’t talk much, the respect they accorded each other was evident.
It hadn’t rained in a while so when Ben felt the drizzle on this particular day, he was glad that it would help settle the dust. He didn’t expect it to last more than an hour but it did, and it seemed heavier each minute. All the kids who’d taken time to dance in the rain were quickly wished away by their parents. Businesses closed and people hurriedly left for the safety of their homes. Within a short while the roads became impassable and it was evident as fewer commuter cars used that route. The few that made it through were private vehicles whose owners were intent on getting home regardless of the thunder and lighting.
Ben sat on the steps leading to the main house as he sheltered himself from the rain. The shelter worked just fine on dry days and he even got a chance to read a little as he whiled away the night. The rain, however, made everything different. The raging winds even made it worse and he stayed at his shelter for most of the evening except for occasional walks around the house. When he settled, he pressed himself hard on a corner on the wall and despite the million and one clothes he had on he could still feel it’s coldness.
A few minutes after dusk, a cab drove to a stop right outside his workplace. The cab driver had been asked to pick the masters daughter as she had been stranded in the next town.
When she alighted, she rushed to the main door where her father was already opening the door. She was shivering and as Ben helped with her bags he saw the mud on her feet and drenched clothing and for a moment he appreciated that the rain didn’t discriminate. Her situation was in no way similar to his though. She’d soon enough get a hot shower, a change of clothes and a hot meal to calm her down. He, on the other hand only had morning to look forward to. And he wasn’t sure he’d find his clothes intact if at all the rain hadn’t swept away his tin house.
She tried to make conversation about the severity of the rain as they moved her luggage but not much came out of it. The reply she earned was sincere and subtle: “Heri wewe ushafika… mvua si shida tena.” She didn’t know what to say so she rushed in to get the coffee her father had made.
He stared on as she locked the door behind him then suddenly looked away to fight the sad emotion and loneliness that now gripped him. The night was so
young yet the rain had already made quite an impact on his clothes. Soon enough, his toes would face its wrath if his shoes leaked in water from the puddles. Though he’d had supper and tea when he arrived at his workplace, he could feel his stomach rumble and he shivered slightly from the cold. Not even his radio had been spared and he had opted to turn it down rather than struggle with the poor reception. It was no doubt going to be one long night but he knew he had to be strong. He had to brave it all and man up.
If he couldn’t do it for himself, at least he’d do it for his unborn daughter, so that when it rained she would have a better home to run to.