Raindrops on Children

By Elaine Heynatz (19 years and over)

Things could have been worse, I suppose, in this year of 1937, but not by much. Mum and Dad were really worried.

They had five young mouths to feed. If rain didnt fall soon, the paddock of wheat which had ben sown weeks before would fail to germinate. They needed a good crop to harvest for next years income.

The two tanks that supplied our house with water were nearly empty. Each day, Dad would knock on the rings of the tanks to gauge how much water was left.

Mosquitos had laid their larvae in the tank water and little wrigglers would come out of the taps. We all hated to see them in our drinks so Mum had tied a piece of stocking over the spouts so the water could drain through cleanly.

We had stopped bathing in the cement troughs in the old laundry, in water heated by the copper. Instead, we all bathed in the dam. It was nearly empty too, so the water was rather muddy, but we had fun paddling around in it anyway, as it was warm weather.

Dad carried water from the dam for any house cleaning, such as the scrubbing of the linoleum covered floors. Any water left over afterwards was tipped around the vegetable patch nothing was wasted.

The small community of farmers had met in the one-room school to discuss the drought situation and pray for rain. They were all determined to stand by each other.

We would often see our parents standing outside searching the sky, looking for a sign of rain clouds gathering.

After dinner each night, wed listen to the wireless, especially the news and weather forecast. (We were still amazed to hear voices coming from nowhere out of that box, which was run by a car battery).

Then, one evening, when we were all in the lounge as usual; the younger ones playing with toys and the older ones doing their homework by the light of the kerosene lamp, there was a slight noise on the iron-clad roof.

Mum, sitting in her rocking chair darning some socks, looked over at Dad and we all went quiet.

Dad slowly moved his arm across to shut of the sound of the wireless. We listened, heads turning to each other as the noise intensified.

Its starting to rain, Dad whispered, wonder in his voice.

We all stood and raced for the door but Mum pulled us back.

Dont go out there, youll get your clothes wet, she warned.

She didnt object though, as we tugged off all our gear and ran outside naked, to dance around the yard and lift up our mouths to drink in the sweet taste of pure water.

Our parents stood in the doorway, laughing, and an undemonstrative Dad put an arm around Mums shoulder and held her close for a moment as he commented quietly, with hope in his voice, Its setting in!

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