On my first rainy night on the island, when I had been there for about a week, in the ambiguous wet half-dark that was neither day or night, neither warm nor cold, I was picking my way back to the villa when the rain started pelting the broken coral like grains of uncooked rice. The cicadas were not screaming. One just heard water.
I saw Khem clearing up the little bay of the detritus that we have left behind through the week to keep our things from getting drenched. He was wearing scuba suit shorts and an old rag around his head (a wet rag – I wonder why – but I had ceased to ask questions; so few things made sense now). Khem was clearing our little bay, almost like a sandy, outdoor room with boulder walls, and we didn’t take things back into the villa anymore but left books and such lie out in the open, so even had the weather been. Now it rained.
Khem saw me and said: “P’CW lost his spectacles.” He was looking under the brittle plastic chairs. “You wait,” he said, “I take you back in umbrella. Big rain come.”
Then he pulled the chairs into the shelter of the beach bar that had never served as a bar ever, I suspect, and unfurled the canvas blinds that smelled musty. I waited by the narrow path going up the cliff, wondering what the rainwater carried. At least we would not run out of bath water now. Khem opened a faded gold umbrella, squeezed pass me onto the path and I followed him in the shelter of the umbrella; I wondered briefly if I should take his hand – would he mind? Khem seemed to know every rock on this island, every tree and path. The rain had started to fall in sheets and the path was slippery and alive with unseen bugs.