Chandra listened to the muted roar of rain against the roof and smiled. From her vantage point near the bedroom window she could see outside. Not clearly because it was dark out, but ever so often flashes of brightness illuminated the surroundings. There was nothing particularly remarkable about Dennison Lane with its neat row of well-kept houses. Her fascination, however, was not with the view but with the lightning. Booming cracks of thunder could always set her heart to racing. But lightning, lightning always seemed to be God’s way of saying, “I am here.”
“What’re you smiling at?” Beena asked as she bounded into the room.
“I was just thinking about the ranch.” Chandra said as she turned to face her sister.
The ranch was their nickname for their former home. Composed of just three rooms that were not nearly enough to house the family of five, it was far from ranch-style.
A roll of thunder sent Beena diving for the covers.
“What, you missing it” Beena scoffed, safely under the comforter.
“No, it’s just that things are so different now.”
“Yeah, now you have a room all to yourself. Tell me, why is that again?”
“Because I am the oldest, gainfully employed and in need of my privacy.” Chandra replied archly, chin in the air.
A pillow hit her smack in the nose and ruined the dignified pose. Retaliation must be swift, she thought as she launched herself at her attacker.
Muffled shrieks and denials of mercy brought more feet running into the room.
“Pillow fight!” two voices screamed in unison as they dove into the fray. Four pairs of arms tangled and tugged as each fought to gain custody of the two pillows on the bed.
“What’s going on here?” a new voice enquired sternly from the doorway.
Rena and Reshma tumbled off the bed and rushed to explain, “They started it!”
Chandra rolled her eyes and removed the pillow that had landed on her face. Mama stood smiling broadly, tray in hand. On it were five bowls of porridge. Mama always made porridge on cold, rainy nights to chase the chill away.
Taking a bowl each, they got comfy on the bed. Chandra smiled at the familiar sight. On the ranch when rain fell, they knew to get out the pots and pans to catch water from the leaking roof. Afterwards they would all drag Mama’s mattress in front of the television and have their porridge. It had been comforting, being together. Sometimes they would even take the lights off so the lightning seemed brighter. But the rain. The rain had seemed angrier then; louder and closer as it beat against the flimsy aluminum and wooden walls. She had prayed then, prayed that she would get a good job and be able to give her family the security of a good home.
#5 Dennison Lane had no leaking roof, and that naked feeling of vulnerability was gone. Huddled on a mattress much like Mama’s old one, however, Chandra felt safe. Concrete walls and a gypsum ceiling muffled the fearsome sounds of howling winds and rain.
“Chandra was just reminiscing about the ranch.” Beena informed between mouthfuls of porridge.
Mama’s eyes met hers in silent understanding. Lightning flashed again and Chandra’s lips curved in a smile. In a whisper she answered, “Thank you, Lord.”
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