The rains came, as they always did. Prickly wet fingers, beating a staccato rhythm loudly upon the galvanized tin roof of the shack. Rivulets of mud transforming the previously dusty road into an impassible bog. Outside the shack, all signs of movement ceased, save the incessant rain.
The old man sat inside the door, jaundiced eyes viewing the scene. It was not new to him. It represented a lifetime of seasons that exhibited the fickle whims of the tropics. He knew instinctively what to expect. After the rains would come the oppressive heat, baking the dirt and bringing the mosquito’s and other preying insects. The mangroves would again thrive in the brackish waters of the swamp. Bamboo shoots would rise majestically where yesterday there had been nothing but grass.
The man knew it well. It was the cycle of life. His life. He knew no other. He was as one with natures architecture. Subsisting on that which he could grow and harvest, catch or kill. Beginning as a child, learning the skills of his father. Growing into one who provided for his own family, passing his heritage to his children.
However, that was yesterday. Many yesterdays. A lifetime. Now all behind him. Age stealing from him his ability to endure, infirmities sapping his faculties, pain becoming his companion. He stared listlessly at the machete on the table before him. The handle worn and smoothed by decades of use. The blade, sharpened so often that it’s shape had been altered. He reached for it, touching it with his weathered hand, almost a caress. A cough racked his body, exposing the congestion that lived within his chest. His breathing labored, he sipped water from a shell cup until again able to regulate his breathing.
His gaze turned again to the portal. The cycle playing out once again. But this time, it was different. This time, he knew the rain had come for him. The drumming on the roof calling him. The life he knew was being washed away. A new pallet was being created that did not include him. “It is as it should be” he thought. “I have had my season”. Slowly he rose from his chair and struggled to the small cot in the corner. Lowering himself, he sat briefly on its side, raising his hand as if in goodbye, then lowering his head to the pillow and, as a slight smile touched his lips, closed his eyes.
The rain continued, as it always did.