To be thankful for every drop

James de Villiers

"Smell the rain," Miss Riekert said, closing her eyes. 

Her hands were stretched out to consume the scent Ceres so long longed for.

"Smell the rain," she said with a tear in the corner of her eye. "There's nothing more beautiful than the smell of rain."

For a moment, silence fell over the grade four classroom: thirty pupils stared at the concrete courtyard as water slowly trickled down the school's slate roof - the drops dropping as if they were small rocks slowly eroding the earth's core.

A distinct smell of clay alighted the senses.

"This is what hope smells like," Miss Riekert, the principal and maths teacher, said softly. Her usual forceful demeanour briefly softened - a weight lifted.

That afternoon at home, I recall the relief on my father's face as the stubborn drought, which plagued the rural community of Ceres the past three years, relinquished control.

At the time I didn't understand the obsession with the rain, but nonetheless I joined others in prayer: seated on my knees next to my bed that evening I thanked God for relief.

I was 10; the year 2005.

"Never forget the smell of rain," I still recall Miss Riekert say.

But surely we've forgotten the smell of rain; the miracle of life which once built and destroyed civilisations is being dismissed as a basic human right.

That which our forefathers once regarded as sacred, now considered an entitlement - not a blessing. Oh, how spoilt we've become.

Perhaps, as Cape Town's taps run dry, we can once again learn to appreciate that which we've grown accustomed to; learn to be grateful for to smell of the rain. Because what we take for granted - water, good health and the earth - are the biggest gifts we've ever received.

Being alive today is a blessing. So, stop, stand still, and smell the rain; appreciate the everyday luxuries granted to you. 

- De Villiers is a journalist at Business Insider South Africa.

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