The current of water from the rainfall drums against the zinc roof of my grandmother's bungalow house before rolling down to the floor. As the water hit the ground, the dust attempted to hit the clouds.
Its fragrance teases my nostrils as it makes its way towards the sky. I wasted no time taking a long drag of air, like a coffee aficionado, savouring the flavour of the beverage, as though it were an ephemeral treasure whose value has to be relished to the last drop before it eventually disappears.
As expected, the dust fizzles out as the rainwater kisses the earth long enough to form bubbles of different shapes and sizes. I widen my eyes as I stare at one of nature's magnificences from the balcony I was squatting, leaning, and standing on.
I stretch my arms into the rain and allow the current of water to stroke the back of my palm. I close my eyes, relishing every sensation that each stroke sends through my nerves.
"These activities are not different from a young man taking a walk across the street or a family taking breakfast, lunch, or dinner over the meal table. It's no different from everyday, regular activities."
That's what my uncle, Thomas, will tell me if he sees me staring at the downpour with a widened eye while gasping, covering my eyes, and clutching my chest intermittently. Maybe he's right. Rainfall is at best mundane to many people, but not to me. Nothing is ordinary from my point of view. I wonder and wander about just about anything.
"Aston." Someone is screaming my name, but I'm hearing it faintly, as though I were lost in the forest and someone was shouting out my name in hope of locating me. It's the voice of the first person I first recognised. It's not in Rosie's nature to raise her voice. Even in a bustling room, she'd move gracefully, her presence like a calm, undisturbed pool in the midst of a bustling river, her actions speaking more softly than words ever could.
For her to bawl out my name only means one thing—I've been out of sight for a long time. "Aunt Rosie," I call back. I stumble and fumble at the word. My voice is laced with hesitant pauses, shakiness, and uncertainty.
I flip my palm, causing water to sprinkle on the balcony floor, and rub my palm on my black shorts as I make my way through the back door into the house.
I meet Aunt Rosie, calmly standing in the living room. She bends and plants a kiss on my forehead. Her hugs and pegs are the one thing I have never wondered about because the warmth, comfort, and assurance they breed settle all the queries my mind could ever cook up.
But this time, the kiss felt different. I looked at her as though I were staring into an empty space. She squats to look me in the eyes, places her hands on my shoulders, curves her lips into a soft smile, and whispers, "You don't have to call me Aunt Rosie."
Rosie had always been the only mom I knew—not until yesterday, when we visited Grandma. "You turned six yesterday; belated happy birthday." Grandma said, pausing before adding.
"If you were an ordinary kid, we'd love to keep this from you for as long as possible."
"Keep what?" I asked, leaning towards her.
"With your level of curiosity, you'll soon find out. We don't want you to grow to hate us for hoarding this kind of information from you."
At this point, I was listening with not only my ears but with everything in me.
Grandma finally said, "Rosie isn't your mom."
She waited to get a reaction from me, but I said nothing. The amount of thoughts running through my mind was too much and too rapid for me to make out one. I just let them run freely without trying to chew on any.
"This is already too much for you. I wouldn't say more. Tomorrow, Aunt Rosie will give you a key to a room that contains your mom's collections. It will help you learn everything about her."
"Au---nt. Ro.." I couldn't complete the word.
This morning, before the call by Aunt Rosie, I'd sling through the backdoor, into the balcony, to watch rain pour on the earth, in the hope that it would declutter my mind so I could properly process what lay ahead.
"It's time. Be brave. I love you." Aunt Rosie handed me a tiny key. "Over there," she pointed to a door beside Uncle Thomas's room.
"Thanks mum." I muttered. "You'll be fine." Aunt Rosie whispered again as she planted another kiss on my forehead. As I move towards the room, I'm partly excited because, for one, my curiosity will be fed.
Mom was a verocious reader. This explains my unusual hunger for knowledge. The room was more of a library than a bedroom. She had the best collection of books I've ever seen. Just like in libraries, the books are arranged and labelled according to genres.
I went to the section labelled "personal". My eyes fell upon a voluminous brown cover book titled "My Documentary". Her name was Ruth, and she'd documented everything about her life from childhood to adulthood.
Just like me, she was a kid who wondered about everything she came across. She questions everything she sees; she finds answers to some, but the real question, which was about life and its purpose, she never found until she met and fell in love with my dad, Atson. Obviously, I was named after him.
"When trapped in Atson's embrace, I know what life is. To live is to love, and to love is to live. In his embrace, all my voids are filled. I want to know nothing other than loving and living." She wrote.
She died giving birth to me, days after my dad passed away in a ghastly motor accident. Her last word was that I should be named Atson. My name, Atson, is the last word on her documentary.
After the last word, Atson, the book has many blank pages, even more than the ones she wrote on. I walk out of the room with the documentary and begin documenting everything about my life on the blank pages.
Just like my mom, I hope to grow up and find love that will fill the void. Because up until this very moment, my mind is an ocean, only that it isn't filled with water but with emptiness that zillions of pieces of information have refused to fill.