The one who started it all was my grandmother. It was night, it was raining hard, and someone came to our house. She lifted the intercom handset to reply. The person had the wrong house and apologized, but Grandma didn’t hang up right away; she was spellbound by the sound of the din of rain coming through the intercom. The downpour sounded worse against the waterproof canvas covering the entrance to our building, one of those hotel awnings that keep the rain from falling on guests who have arrived by taxi, a covering that had divided the tenants in our building into two opposing factions when it was installed. Listen, she told me, handing me the receiver, and I was surprised by the clatter I heard, nothing like the gentle tapping of drops against the window panes. The rain hitting the canvas produced a deafening patter, like the sound you hear under an umbrella, but multiplied by a surface ten or fifteen times larger, so the shower sounded like a deluge. Give it to me, my Grandmother said, grabbing the apparatus from my hands, and she started to listen again. My father, my mother and my brothers came to press their ear to the receiver. Grandmother brought a chair so she could listen to the evening rain comfortably seated, and with that gesture of hers she formalized her right of ownership over that phenomenon that she had discovered. We passed the receiver back and forth before she seized it again. An uncle of mine lives in our building and my father spoke to him to bring him up to speed on the matter. My uncle called after a little while to tell us that he couldn’t hear so well with his intercom, so not long after he came up to our apartment along with his wife and two children to listen to the rain through our intercom. I called my cousin Raúl, who lives in front of us. His building has intercoms but lacks an awning like ours, so he didn’t take long to knock on our door. Evening rains are my family’s passion. Grandmother organized listening shifts lasting a minute and a half and nobody dared question her stronghold next to the intercom.
Original text: Morábito, Fabio. “Lluvia nocturna” from El idioma materno. Madrid: Sexto Piso, 2014.