Doing the Raindunce
by Deborah Chow
there was a time when it rained orange peel
zesty golden goodness onto our sticky atap rooftops
when father stayed home, trapped in by the glorious monsoon
the sea, a diva in a fit —hiding fish, spitting up waves,
swallowing fishermen whole
my sisters and brothers played timpani on each others’ bloated bellies
with hunger-chiselled limbs. happy but hungry. no matter. the rain nourished us. Orange juice rain.
kuala lumpur downpours, a poisonous concoction of acid, smoke, diluted carbon
monoxide and factory-heat trickling down the Twin Tower windows while
sleepy from my nasi lemak lunch i hold a starbucks venti between my palms
to keep warm. the traffic brews down below, hot and humid, billowing
flags in a row, as the meeting minutes defy time. tick tock, trickle trickle, yawn.
father is still at sea. fishing for food. fishing for life. my siblings and i are suburbanites
painting the capital red.
i wake up to my body wrapped around ben’s, wound tight like a rope. we pull the cobwebs of sleep off each other and kiss. drawn like magnets. he wants to make morning coffee, i say
my folks are visiting. we fuck for another hour til the blueblack sky cracks into a broad grin of light.
then untangle. slip into weekend jeans. and tissues to wipe bodilyfluid traces off skin.
i watch ben walk down the rain-kissed pavement and whisper
goodbye, my love. my penis is empty and flaccid.
far from the sea, my father, calloused by hard work, his jaw set in religious righteousness, is now
helpless like a beached whale in my apartment. he sinks, too low into my Cellini couch
defeated. a warrior in sarong. a fisherman in a kopiah.
mother sits by him, anxious and frail. Word has travelled to the coast, i am hell-bound and lost
because, Allah forbid, i fuck men.
my father has come to see for himself. mother is in tears. the village gossipers have torn their dignity to shreds.
my heart pumps in staccato. yet they never say the word. not even when the taxi takes them back to the coast.
i have hidden the Vaseline under the kitty litter box.
my mind wants to shame my soul. the soul of a fishervillage boy. but my heart refuses — there is no shame in being. Being. Like raining. What is the shame in it raining?
in coastal villages the rain is a bane that keeps us hungry and makes our children prawn-brained.
children who play timpani to the beat of hunger pangs, children who dance in the downpour,
gay children who
hide storms between their legs, while waltzing to the beat of their hearts.