A vignette written to celebrate my commencement of reading Le Temps Perdu

At daybreak I woke up remembering the rain.

It had woken me in the middle of the night: the patter on the roof, the murmur in the bamboo outside. Delighted and confused -- was I dreaming? -- I got up and walked out naked onto the terrace. It does not rain here in December. Ever. When God made the world, he had declared that there should be no rain in these parts until May. Yet, there it was, the rain: the surface of my pond, black, oily and glistening in the dim light of a single yellow lantern among the bamboos on the other side sprang growing circles where individual drops of rain fell upon it: here, there, here.

At daybreak I woke up remembering the rain. I walked out onto the terrace again, trying to ascertain whether I had dreamt it: there was dew on the trees, the ground was wet. Did it rain last night, or did I dream it?

I looked around. The sky was overcast and the air was humid. It's never humid this time of the year. There are not supposed to be any clouds in the sky. Have I woken up in a different part of the world from that in which I had gone to sleep? Was I dreaming still? I felt displaced. The experience was confusing but it was pleasant to be confused: I had been tired with my old reality, I had grown desperate thinking that it would never change. An unexpected tectonic shift in it would have been welcome; falling into a time-space anomaly like this would have been an answer to my prayers.

I search for clues to the mystery of where it is I had woken, I began to wonder through my garden, looking at the flowers and the trees, until I came upon my neighbor's hut. He was on his porch, making coffee.

Theo, I asked him, did it, or did it not rain last night? Nope, he said definitively.

By the pool I met Annette. Annette, I said, did it rain last night? Most certainly not, she said and dove in the pool.

Then, suddenly, I remembered something. Doubling back by Theo's house, I asked him: Theo, do you think it is possible that there might have been a dog drowning in my pond last night?

Wouldn't know anything about that, said Theo. But would you like some coffee?

I walked back home slowly.

There most definitely had been a drowning dog in my pond last night. I remembered it now. Her yelping disturbed my reading several times, until at last, taking my torch in hand, I headed out to see what the matter was. After some searching I discovered her, her eyes squinting in the beam of my flashlight, in the bushes on the other side of my pond. She lay exhausted half-way on the ground and half-way in the water. She must have come down to drink, slipped and fallen in; but as the bank is very steep and slippery here, she couldn't scramble out. She struggled and struggled and at last collapsed breathless, slowly slipping back into the water where she was going to drown. And now she lay there, yelping, resigned to death by water.

Laying my torch on the ground, I stripped, wrapped my arms in my jeans in case she should scratch or bite, stepped in the pond up to my waist, and lifted her up. She offered no resistance. She was as motionless as dead. I carried her to the garden gate and gently put her outside, on the road, in the moonlight shining through an opening in the clouds. She looked miserable, wet and trembling, and had the world's stupidest expression on her snout. Have you ever seen an embarrassed dog? As I locked the gate behind her, she looked at me, confused.

Yes, I now remembered that. It had happened last night. And then I went to sleep. And then I woke in the middle of the night: the patter of the rain on the roof had woken me, and its murmur in the bamboo. And then I went to sleep again. And then I woke uncertain whether any of that had happened or not.


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