The rain song

Rain is subversive. People pray and dance for it to to fall down in times of drought, but people wish it would stop falling when it’s in season. Rain is moody. It has temper.

Rain makes things grow; it celebrates life. The same rain can cause unwanted floods; it can even claim lives. Some myth says rain on your wedding day is a bad omen (and then, rain stoppers earn money from wedding organizers). Chinese culture believes water symbolizes prosperity so they expect pouring rain on the Chinese new year. Absence of it foreshadows upcoming financial challenge. 

Rain, your existence is a mystery.

If you were born in the 70’s or earlier, you may remember Rain Man. The 1988 movie directed by Barry Levinson revolves around the twisted fate of two brothers: Charlie, played by Tom Cruise, and his autistic brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffmann). Raymond… or as Charlie mistakenly called Rain Man following an incident back when they were children, is considered liability because of his condition. Accidentally almost putting his baby brother’s life in danger, their parents sent him away to an institution. They grow up not knowing each other. Years pass and their father passes away, leaving arrogant Charlie a car and his collection of rose bushes, and Raymond huge portion of his fortune. Out of his greed to get their father’s inheritance, Charlie reluctantly takes Raymond out of the facility so that he can have full control of the fortune. His selfishness leads him to a deep sh*t. His debts are piling. What Charlie initially thinks as liability turns to be his good luck charm. Raymond’s ability to memorize hundreds of numbers helps Charlie get a big win in a casino. Their relationship changes forever. The story ends in a bitter sweet note. Nobody wins. Nobody loses. Everybody just gets by.

Rain Man is like an irony we have to live by: what we know we need, and yet at the same time, what we try to avoid when around. 

And then, there’s umbrellas. When we humans do not have power over nature, we create things to live in peace with it. I believe umbrellas serve that purpose. Rather than stop our activities because the rain has caused us inconvenience and discomfort, we keep doing what we normally do the best we can: we carry an umbrella in the rain. Or wear raincoats. There are things that the rain need to cool down or help grow. There things that we human need to do despite the rain. Umbrella is some sort of a peace maker between the two (not that they’re in war). It becomes a plain, uncomplicated symbol of harmony between nature and humans… within its limitation.

Lately in Indonesia, whether we realize it or not, we have witnessed how we are used to living in the irony of controversies and differences. Just like coping with the rain. We have learned to manage it, not with ease, but we get by.We carry umbrellas in the rain. #payungbiru, or the blue umbrella that the president carried last week at the Friday’s prayers, seems to represent this humble resilience. It may not easy to be an Indonesian living in Indonesia at the moment, but as long as umbrellas are compulsory items in all households, we always have a hope. ☺

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