EL NINO 1984

EL NINO 1984


El Nino is back in the news this year. The storms that hit large parts of South China are believed to be a result of El Nino. Back in 1984 when I was in middle school, the weather that autumn definitely was El Nino’s work.


That autumn the rains seemed to be on all the time, not heavy rains but light lasting ones. Some nights the sky cleared up and the moon appeared, but the next morning, the rains came back. Many mornings, the eastern horizon was painted red, but pretty soon after a glorious sunrise, the sky became overcast and leaden, and the rains picked up from the day before. Therefore the country stayed wet throughout the season. Roads became muddy and the rice harvest was ruined. Most of the rice grains dropped into the saturated soil in the fields.


It rained for so long that many families in our hamlet ran out of dry firewood. To fuel their cooking, they had to come up with various ideas. My father was a carpenter. He took off some beams that supported our attic and chopped them into firewood. I asked him whether the attic would collapse without the supports. Father reassured me that there was no problem. After the long rainy season, he replaced the beams.


That autumn, it rained for such a long time that the boarding pupils in my middle school were stranded in the poor facility. For a whole month there was no holiday or break because the country roads became treacherous with mudslides. A river that ran through a valley flooded a road leading to many rural communities where the pupils came from. Then came a day when the cooks at the school kitchen reported shortage of firewood. The reserves stored at the kitchen for the pupils went mouldy.


When finally we were told to go home, we could not follow the normal road. A large stretch of it was submerged. Therefore we resorted to a trail that ran along the slopes next to the river. Most of us slipped and fell countless times on the trip home. We ended up with muddy clothes.


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