My ceiling fell in.
The roofers had been working on replacing the roof for a week. They would rip up 1 section and replace it then move on to another section. They were about at the project’s halfway mark when we 3 bule on a bike went for an early dinner one Friday evening. Classes had finished and, unusually, all of the children had left on time. On the way to dinner, we noticed a bank of dark clouds in the distance but thought no more of them. We had bad dim sum, I had my first sop buah ever and we returned to the centre to work or relax for the evening.
My colleague A went out with friends, while B decided to work on some reports that were due. I went to bed early. I was tired because of 2 consecutive nights of shortened sleep so I was out by 9:30 pm. The sound of dripping woke me up 2 hours later.
I rolled over in bed, pleased by the sound of the rain on the roof, which I’ve always loved. As I always do, I whispered a quick prayer of thanks to God for the rain and tried to go back to sleep. Instead, I realised that the dripping sound that had awoken me sounded like it was inside. I turned the lights on and looked around but couldn’t see where the sound was coming from and decided not to worry about it. By now, I was wide awake so I decided to play a game on my iPad while I enjoyed the sound of the rain.
Then I felt a drip on my arm. What came next was a surreal 3 hours.
The first hour was spent putting down every bucket, basin, pot or pan that B and I could find in the 3 bedrooms on my side of the house, which was the only area that was really affected. The containers would fill up and we would empty and replace them. When we ran out of more buckets, pans, basins and pots we started putting down newspapers and old pieces of clothing to try to absorb the water that was getting on the floor. The heavy rain continued steadily.
By this time, though I was still in an upbeat mood (what was the point of getting miserable about it?), I was praying for the rain to stop. It occurred to me that this was literally the first time in my life that I had ever prayed for rain to stop; not even during hurricanes have I done that. This was so because always before I have had a sound roof over my head. I suddenly felt thankful for all those roofs that I had taken for granted and empathetic towards all the people who constantly live with what I was experiencing for the first time in my life.
During the second hour, we started trying to mop up but abandoned that as a waste of time when we realised how much water we weren’t getting at. We decided to just let it come and we would clean it up the next day. Minutes later, the electricity went out with a pop. Luckily, we had unplugged just about everything so nothing blew up or caught fire. We settled down in the dark, getting up every now and then to empty buckets and pans.
By this time, I had already moved my important stuff out to the living room: my laptop and other electronic devices, my Bible, my suitcases. Good thing I did that.
During the third hour, while I was dozing in the living room, I heard a crash. B and I went to investigate and found that the ceiling in my room had started to fall in. This continued intermittently for the next 2 or 3 hours until almost the entire ceiling in that room had come down.
The next morning, as day light (as we say in Jamaica), I was up and surveying the disaster. Apparently, I would temporarily need to change rooms, which was a little disappointing considering all the work I had put into cleaning and cozying up my room. On the other hand, I couldn’t complain too much; I had been praying all week for God to show me a way to effect some cleaning changes to the centre without me stepping on people’s toes too much. I knew He would come through for me but I didn’t expect it to be in such dramatic fashion!
In the end, I was glad that the roof had started leaking as it did – that gave me time to remove myself and my stuff from the room before it fell in. I was safe, classes were cancelled for the day and I got what I asked for – an opportunity to implement a clean up plan.