Cry the parched country

What good is Facebook if it can’t make it rain? (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

What good is Facebook if it can’t make it rain? (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)


My housemate returned from Gauteng with cracked lips and a broken soul.

“It’s dry up there,” she said before collapsing into a chair.

I ran to get a glass of sugar water and fanned her with a pillow.

“Cattle are dying everywhere,” she went on.
“People are drinking Pepsi.”

“I heard the sugar price is going up,” I said, trying to be funny. “At least Tim Noakes and his cronies will pipe down now.”

She cracked a smile, but grimaced as the cracks in her lips burst open. “If there was just something we could do,” she said. “Some courageous act to show how much we care.”

“We could change our Facebook profile pics,” I cried.

“You need stripes for that,” came the reply. “Look how well the rainbow flag worked.”

I slumped into a chair. I was out of ideas. My housemate and I sat in silence, paralysed by our inability to respond appropriately to a national emergency. With her lip trembling, my housemate looked as though she might shed tears. A waste, I thought, since she just travelled all the way from a drought disaster area.

“The garden looks good,” I said, trying to lift the mood.

“Did you water the lawn like I asked?”

“Sure did. Twice a day.”

“And the swimming pool?”

“Filled it up.”

“Is the cricket on?” she asked out of the blue.

“Rain delay,” I said, which opened the flood gates. Sobbing uncontrollably, my housemate cried big, fat, sorry tears for our cricket team, for Gauteng, for everything.

I ran to the kitchen for our biggest bucket to catch the deluge. I told her about the carnage in Paris and that the ANC came first. The bucket was about a quarter full. I said Chester Missing is white and the SAA is in a nose dive. Waterworks.

The bucket was filling up nicely; I even considered fetching another one when suddenly the tears stopped. She was wrung out.

Moving swiftly, I took a picture of my housemate’s dried-up body next to the bucket and posted it on Facebook with the caption: “Tears for Gauteng: Change your profile picture to break the drought.”

Within minutes my housemate’s pathetic image appeared all over Face­book. Someone combined it with French and rainbow flags proclaiming: “If no one can, Facebook can!”

I walked to the window and looked up at the sky. A few clouds gathered at breakneck speed, but vanished just as quickly. I switched on the weather. A big red blob hovered over Gauteng. Why isn’t this working, I wondered. What good is Facebook if it can’t make it rain?

Emotionally drained, I dragged myself to the bathroom and opened the taps full blast. The fate of Gauteng rested with the gods, and Facebook was built for baby pics.

The facts spoke for themselves, I thought, as I lowered my body into the tub, spilling a little water on the floor. My housemate hated that, but I didn’t even notice as the warm water penetrated my weary bones.

Hansie Smit is a freelance journalist.

JS Smit

JS Smit

JS Smit is a Cape Town-based freelance writer. Formally trained as a copywriter, he took a break from ads in 2010 to write a blog for the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader and since 2015 has written for the Mail & Guardian. Read more from JS Smit

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