What is this?

This is my currently oldest surviving homework assignment (in MS Word form anyway, I’m sure others exist in paper form in boxes somewhere).

It’s dated Nov 05 1998, which would have put me in Secondary 2 in Dunman High in Singapore, just before we moved over to Canada at the end of December 1998. It’s also entitled “English Paper 1 Part 1”, and has a Q4. list number by it, which implies that it was question 4 of a take-home essay, probably something like an end of year final essay, judging by the date of the assignment, since the Singapore school year ends in mid November. The topic was Rain, and this was what 14 year old me wrote.

It’s terrible, but that’s what makes it fun, right? This is probably a glimpse into what was probably my Chuunibyou stage, or as close as I got to it anyway. (The quote below about the Final Battle of the Gods is actually lifted right from one of the Fabled Lands books that I allude to in the mini-essay itself, although I’m not sure what I was going on about regarding the Dark One. I’ll happily blame some scene or other from that book too, though.)

English Paper 1 Part 1, Q4

When the rain is falling, I run to the window to watch it. Rain is beautiful, so lovely, a gift from God we should treasure. Feel, feel the rain splattering against the windowpane and rooftop; or if I am lucky, feel the spray literally “spraying” me from head to toe. If I happen to get caught in the rain with no umbrella… a perfect excuse to get drenched!

There are many degrees of rain, from a light drizzle while the sun is shining overhead to black clouds unfurling like a great sail over the red sky, engulfing it in mere seconds, lightning flashing across the sky like the sun’s flashing knife trying to cut through the clouds and thunder rolling like armies marching over the hills. As you can tell from above, my favourite sort is the second sort – heavy downpours.

Unfortunately, that sort of rain does not happen very often in Singapore, so it is a sight to behold when it comes.

I read fantasy books, plenty of them, and have come across many brilliant descriptions of storms, especially in the Fabled Lands series of gamebooks (this is NOT a marketing ploy). They have many simply fabulous descriptions of storms, and so my memory “runs wild” every time a storm approaches.

Especially if I am standing next to an ocean when it’s raining heavily. With the thunder and lightning and crashing waves acting as a paean, I imagine phalanxes of silent troops suddenly stepping out from the ocean onto the beach, victorious in an otherworld battle. Or the thunder and waves could be the Dark One’s summonings as legions of barnacle-crusted, well-preserved corpses rise from the sea to rally at the sounds of the “drum”, preparing to ravage the world with chaos.

Many many people think of dark skies and rain as bringing sadness and doom, of evil and darkness. For example, in a thunderstorm, an overreactive religious zealot might be heard shouting, “It’s the Final Battle of the Gods! It’s Armageddon!”

Why? I don’t exactly agree with them. The cool breeze and rain, for example, refresh and revitalise me, and rainy days usually considerably raise my spirits from ‘normal’ to ‘exhilarated’. Even if that rainy day signifies something bad, like my earlier example of barnacle-crusted corpses and perhaps skeletons, I still would not feel any premonition of doom about it. For only during rainy days have I actually experienced and felt anything close to “freedom”, real freedom, and I feel like maybe I could spread my wings and fly.

I imagine being on a ship during a rainy day. I imagine the day suddenly turning into night, black cloud demons silently gathering on the horizon, afraid of my ship yet preparing for a massive frontal assault on it, imagine the crew hurriedly taking everything below deck and lashing whatever can’t be. I imagine the smell of overpowering brine permeating the decks, ship tossing from side to side…

“Pitter patter pitter patter” the rain is pouring outside, beckoning me. I would not mind catching a cold or fever for a few minutes spent in the sheet of rain, so long it is nothing serious. Why don’t you join me?

Document dated: Nov 05 1998.