General

Black Rain Storm

I was awaken by lightning and thunder. I looked at the clock. It was just past five – a wee bit early to start the day, even though I had planned a long day ahead. Then I recalled I had yet to deal with a few emails last night; and soon I found myself sitting in front of the monitor.

No sooner had I replied to two emails than it went pitter-patter outside the window. A rainy day ahead, I thought, as had been promised by the Hong Kong Observatory.

There was a time when I habitually got up at these hours to reply to emails and to work on speeches and messages. It was about ten years ago when I was preparing for my governorship. Rosita was recovering from her first operation and we blissfully lived as before, not knowing what was in store for us. Rotary and the governorship loomed large – Rotary was everything then.

My mentor Raymond Wong apparently had the habit of getting up early for similar reasons. He told me he did not need to sleep too long; and he always had a lot to do anyway.

Getting up early actually is good for the mind. These days, I sleep and work as the body dictates, except that when I am awake, I do not always do what needs to be done, but rather do what I want to do at the time, out of convenience, expedience or simply inertia, which might explain why I had ended up writing letters to you more often when I was away from home.

I left home after my morning shower and headed for Ricci Hall. It was raining, rather heavily, and it was too dark for 7:15am. There were fewer people than usual attending Mass; and it was lightning and thunder all the way. Even before Mass ended, I was wondering how I would make my way to Admiralty for class which was to start at 9am. I decided to keep the car at home, for practical and economic reasons.

The car was just outside the chapel and I had a big brolly, but rain was coming in from all directions and I got wet all the same. Once in the car, I learnt that the Black Rainstorm Warning was up before 7am. In other words, if I had known it, I should have stayed home and listened to more weather broadcast. I also learnt that the Government announced that all classes would be cancelled. It means that I might not need to attend my class in Admiralty, but I need to confer with my cronies.

The journey home – it is only 3 km – was exciting and adventurous. Many stretches of road were flooded. These are all good roads – Bonham Road, Pokfulam Road and Caine Road – which I never imagine would have flooding problems. A taxi stopped in the middle of a road with hazard lights flashing, apparently having a stalled engine. I quickly and skillfully drove past and found myself in a two feet deep (or almost) pool of rain water; and I had water pouring and splashing on me or my car from all directions. I figured myself inside a car wash machine and I recalled that it was only two days ago I had taken the car for a wash. What a waste, I thought to myself.

I finally got home, safe and dry, and made myself some hot tea and hot noodles. It does not take a lot to be happy at times. All TV channels announced the Black Rainstorm Warning and I had SMS from classmates about cancelled classes. I could have joined my club members to Taipei for the sister club visit.

So all of a sudden, I had an extra day, or at least a morning, coming to me unexpected and without warning. At a time when we have seen how seconds can change the lives of millions in natural disasters such as the cyclones in Myanmar or the earthquakes in Sichuan, it does seem ironic that I should be thinking what I can do with some extra time.

Of course I am grateful for many things around and about me. I am grateful to be safe and dry when millions are having to battle with the natural elements. I pray that we have more people interested in programmes of service organizations such as Rotary, so that more people who badly need their service would benefit. I pray that nations and world leaders would talk to each other and work with each other for the general good of humanity as opposed to specific interest groups. I pray that religious leaders would likewise work together to promote peace and harmony between all people of all creeds and beliefs as opposed to just the people of their own respective faith or denomination.

Even as I was writing, the sky began to clear up and the rain has abated. I wish you all out there a peaceful weekend with your loved ones, wherever you are.

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