Thunder Lilies

When I was a small child, my family used to live in government quarters in the middle of town, in Penang. We had an end double-storey link house just beside a small alley between our block and a private double-storey house. There was a deep narrow drain along this alley which would overflow every time it flooded. For children, floods were a time of high excitement; how dirty the water was never occurred to us. Anyway, we were fascinated by this drain, often imagining it to be a river full of rushing water and pretending it was a ‘canyon’ over which we ran or jumped when the ‘monsters’ or the ‘pursuers’ were hot on our heels, being careful not to fall in. 
On alternate days in the week, the Municipal Council drain sweeper would come to clear the drain with his “cangkul” (hoe) and spade. He dredged up all the mud and debris that silted up and blocked the water flow. Putting it on the grass that grew along the side of the drain. With each clearing, the piles of mud grew, forming small mounds along the alley beside the drain. The mud stank but eventually dried up and blades of grass would begin to cover these stinking little mounds. 
But, something very interesting always happened after an overnight thunderstorm. It was to me – MAGIC, and I remember the fresh dew drops shinning in the sun on those blades of  grass and the beautiful pink heads of flowers that suddenly sprang up and bloomed after the storm. We used to call them “Thunder Lilies”. They were lily like but only as big as a large button with pointed petals and round stems. Their leaves looked a bit like grass but were slightly thicker and were rounded at the ends.
The ‘thunder lilies’ came out without fail after every storm, sometimes in large clumps, sometimes in fewer numbers. It was just wonderful that something so beautiful could grow out of those stinking mounds of mud dredged from the depths of that narrow drain. 
The ‘thunder lilies’ are like the rainbow, perhaps they promised a better day…

Wonder where I will see the ‘thunder lilies’ growing wild again? In Subang Jaya where I used to live a decade ago, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council had grown clumps of similar plants on the road divider. Still the memory of those first wild thunder lilies drenched in morning dew and kissed by the sun after a stormy night, still holds its magic for me… 

Author: jasminetea2

A free lance writer interested in people and ways of living. An adventurer in reality and explorer of fiction. A solitary animal by nature.

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