Guaranteed Rain

The bonfire was about six feet tall. More or less seventy people danced around it, and the group leader chanted Energy Ball over and over again. We sat a few meters away with the huge fire hose beside us, ready for any unwanted incidents. It was a dry starry night but the wind picked up and the embers were like tiny fireflies, they danced towards the palm leaves to the tune of Energy Ball.

I joked about ‘Guaranteed Rain’ since morning that day. The bonfire was planned that night and the whole day, the clouds showed tantrums. The sun hid amongst sheepy, sleepy, silvery clouds.

I watched the incantations for about fifteen minutes and retreated to my room. It didn’t take long until the rain, like a huge explosion crashed into the roof. Rain dance suddenly popped in my mind and I thought, what were the chances that their incantations were actually a call for the rain? And what were the chances that the ritual was actually a rain dance? Who knows? My own joke came to my mind again before I dozed off. Guaranteed Rain.

The next day, as if the heavens answered the previous night’s dance rituals and decided to give us another gift, one guest was tested and she was positive with COVID.

We were horrified. Our island has been COVID-free, well, until that day. And with the way they have been dancing the previous night, all in bikini and body paint, touching and hugging each other, the probability of all of them have already contracted COVID was really high.

We had undergone training after training on how to handle such cases, what measures to be taken but we were still mortified the day it came. Nothing prepared us for anything.

We isolated the woman (Case 1).

I called my family that same day and informed them about the case. We discussed something else and almost forgot about it.

***

The next morning, our team caught Case 1 in front of another villa, gossiping with the other guests.

That same day, I received a message from my husband about the Flood of Ulysses. Mud and murk visited my parent’s house. I asked for details and it took him half a day to reply. He said he was fixing our own roof and there was no electricity. I sent a message to my sister and it took her days to reply.

We’ve learned from the Ondoy experience so when we fixed our house, we raised the ground floor really high. If I stand on street level, the floor of our kitchen and dining area is as high as my chest and even so, the water still seeped in. It is like an annoying visitor. Unwanted. Yet it enters in the most unimaginable way.

***

My sister finally texted me after several days and said they were cleaning the mud-covered ground floor for days on. My father was removing the engines from the cars as all our vehicles were submerged.

Muddy road a few days after the Flood of Ulysses

The Energy Ballers were in denial at the beginning. They demanded a second PCR test for Case 1 but the Health Authorities declined. They demanded we let them continue their activities. They didn’t want to stay in their villas and said they didn’t believe in COVID until came Cases 2,3 and 4.

They finally calmed down but they still didn’t believe the virus. It’s all business and politics, they said. We could not contradict. We were tuck in between angry guests and unhelpful authorities.

All the patients were isolated but the rest continued with their morning exercise by the beach, their lectures, and meals altogether.

We never wore masks inside our staff area until these days. We isolated all our housekeeping teams who were in very close contact with the patient. We were asked to wear a mask everywhere and keep a distance.

Yes, we all wore a mask. But the guys still sat together. Watched football and Bollywood and discussing politics and Covid at the smoking area, their voices muffled by the masks. What’s our difference with the energy ballers then?

***

A colleague and I headed for our daily afternoon swim and the local doctor whose long beard could not fit in his N95 mask saw us and asked why weren’t we wearing masks. I mean, why would I wear a mask if I am going for a swim? There’s a huge probability that his beard contained all the energy balls that were supposed to be in his brain.

***

We tested our staff and thank goodness everyone was negative.

***

Last night’s rain was non-stop. But it’s the soft type of rain, not the harsh explosive. It’s the type that lulls one into sleep, the comforting one like a thick blanket that hugs you to sleep. These days, the probability of guaranteed rain is really high although, the monsoon season was officially over. We really can never tell.

Hope you are all safe, dry, and well.

***

I wrote this post in bits and pieces, almost every day after the positive case came up.

As of posting this, the group leaders of the energy ballers left the island leaving only the four positive cases and six direct contacts. We are all following proper protocols in serving them and we have an in-house doctor checking on them on daily basis. All cases are asymptomatic and we can even see them roaming around the beach in bikini individually and they don’t gather anymore.

Case 1 keeps getting headaches but we believe that’s because of stress. Imagine coming to an island for a  7-day holiday with a  group, and then finding out you are positive and you have to be left on that foreign land for another 14 days where no one speaks your language and you don’t speak English well. You live on a pension and you think about how to pay the hotel for another 14 days. You don’t have family or a husband to check on you and you are some 58 years old already, alone and positive. I can imagine where the headache comes from. And I assume that must not be from Covid.

And lately, the weather has been rather good with guaranteed sunshine and breathtaking sunsets.

Author: aysabaw

Hi there! My name is Aysa! I am currently based in the Maldives, a free diver, a frustrated artist and writer and a lover of palm trees and ocean breeze.

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