It’s the early morning. I sleep soundly, oblivious to the unnatural silence. The roosters, dogs, and insects that I usually want to strangle are nowhere to be heard. All is quiet on the western front. But then a rumble sounds in the distance. The muffled detonation of the early morning’s first bomb. The air raid has begun.
The light artillery starts, testing my tin roof for any weak points. Tat. Tat. Tatat. Tatatatatat. The sprinkles turn into a heavy rain. TATATATATATATATATATATATSTATATAT. I’m under heavy fire. Seconds later, rain is no longer the proper action verb to describe the all-out assault being waged on my little tin roof. BAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAM. It’s a torrential downpour. BAMBAMBAMBAMBAMBAM. I can no longer hear myself think.
A bomb goes off with a resounding crack, closer and louder this time. I can hear it rip through the air. Lightning flashes, illuminating my entire hut with the radiance of a thousand watts. I instinctively count the seconds. One alligator, two alligator, three alligator, four allig-BAAA-BOOOMMMMMM. This one shakes my bed. If I had a window, it would be shattered.
The roof is still under relentless attack but seems to be holding up under the deluge of water. I can’t say the same for my ears. The thunderclaps come at regular intervals now. The bombers are on a tight schedule. Each crack emanates from deep inside my head, exploding outward through my ears like a runaway freight train and rumbling off toward Tanzania. Then a brilliant burst of lightning, that ominous harbinger of destruction. And seconds later another bomb touches down, more terrible and destructive than the last.
I hunker down in my hut to wait it out. After 45 long minutes, the thunder moves off into the distance. The lightning grows fainter and is eventually washed away by the morning’s first light. The rain is the last to go, finally slowing to the point where I can hear individual drops again. The bravest rooster tests out a tentative crow. That’s the one I’m going to hunt down first. A baby squalls nearby. The birds begin their morning songs. Voices emerge from bedraggled huts.
I have weathered my first Zambian thunderstorm.