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The Telling Room: As Bombs Explode, a Calming Rain

For refugees from war-torn countries, the simple sound of rain is a calming memory. As part of our Friday series produced in partnership with the Telling Room in Portland, Michee Runyambo shares his story.

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The Telling Room: As Bombs Explode, a Calming Rai Listen

Michee Runyambo

My neighborhood was so beautiful. I loved the quiet of the place, the mango trees, and the forest on the sides. Every house was a different color. Ours was red, and nothing ever happened in it without the others knowing about it. The streets were narrow and full of dirt. Whenever the sun was out you could hear the women singing; at night it was the drunk man's turn.

One morning there were no birds singing, and no kids were playing soccer in the street. The air was thick and cloudy, but day had finally come. We could actually see the damage of the lights in the sky, and hear the loud bangs on the streets and sharp sounds all around us. We could see where they hit. We could see that we were at war.

We were hiding in my uncle's house. Ours was too dangerous. It was too big, too noticeable, and they knew where my father lived. All eight of us were hiding in one room, trying to keep ourselves quiet and eating what we could find, which was mostly water and beans. There were only two beds, so some of us tried to sleep on the floor. The room was small. The walls were made out of mud over bricks and the roof was made out of metal.

It rained that night. I always loved it when it rained. You could hear the drops and that relaxed me. With everything that had happened - my father leaving, bullets flying all around us, and bombs exploding - rain seemed to decrease the fear. We sat there in that room together for hours not saying a word, just listening and hoping that the next bomb wouldn't fall on us. My little sister was five years old. I remember her crying that night and mom telling her it was okay. "God's with us," she said. She held her tight and you could see all the trouble leaving the little girl's face.

My mother is a brave woman. She took responsibility for keeping us safe. As the rain fell down I could hear my mother's voice, singing in the corner of the room. Her voice filled my head, and my eyes gave up. I started crying. It seemed as if the more she sang the calmer I became and the more I thought that this was just a nightmare. My little brother was lying next to me. He told me he couldn't stop his hands from shaking so I held them and told him to sleep. "Everything will be okay tomorrow morning."

The joy in the room was found in my youngest sister. She was young and innocent and whenever bombs exploded she clapped her hands and laughed. A plate of beans was in the middle of the room, and she struggled to crawl to the plate to eat. Minutes later the small room smelled like our neighborhood dump yard. My baby sister sat there laughing and through her smile you could see her only two teeth. The smell was so intolerable that we were tempted to get out, and even the bullets seemed better at that moment. We all sat there laughing together, and for a brief moment we forgot about the fear that was keeping us there.

Michee Runyambo is brought to us by the Portland-based Telling Room, a non-profit writing center dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Every Friday this summer we'll share an essay from a student between the ages of six and 18 with a unique perspective on the world.

Photo of author Michee Runyambo:  Courtesy the Telling Room


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