They say lightning never strikes the same spot twice. Well, tonight, I would have been really disappointed if it had hit the spot once. That is, if it had hit me while I was riding home.
Tonight, I visited the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Lethem. I wasn’t a member; I was just visiting. I was, and still am, a Christian, but not particularly attached to any particular denomination. I usually attend the Assembly of God Church in Lethem, for the last four years that I was here, but I was not officially a member of any denomination. I believe that all Christians are united in their belief in Jesus Christ our Savior, but I’ll save all this religious talk for another article.
Let’s get back to the point at hand: lightning! The very word that dazzles the eyes and sizzles the excitement. I left the Kingdom Hall around 8 o’clock, then headed to the Takutu Hotel. There, I caught up with some old friends, had dinner and some interesting and productive conversations. By the time I was ready to go home, it was already past ten thirty.
As I stepped outside, I noticed that the roads were soaked. It had rained quite a bit while I was sitting inside of the hotel’s lobby. I unlocked my bicycle and rode out to the streets. I passed the Takutu Gas Station and went further up to the airport road. The road was paved, but very badly broken, with huge holes everywhere. I had to ride carefully. Moreover, there was something gloomy about the environment. I could hear the faint roar of thunder in the heavens, not directly overhead, but far away. But the strong flashes of lightning dazzled my eyes. The angry forks of lightning shot straight down, and like a giant camera, illuminated the clouds and forests all around.
Thank God, I thought, that the lightning was so far away, and not right around me. But who could vouch that it would not come closer? How should I know that suddenly, from the gloomy clouds overhead, would not a bold of lightning break free and come straight down at me? But why me? Why would the lightning leave everything and hit me? I’ve heard that lightning would attract itself to metal, and my bicycle was made of metal! But I’ve heard that lightning would be attracted to the highest piece of metal around. So does that mean that it should go straight to the housetops and leave me alone, if it did choose to strike?
I’ve been told that a car is the safest place to be in during a thunderstorm, but tonight, sadly, I’m a lone peddler on a mountain bicycle, made of metal. So I pedaled harder and harder, in the offchance that, should the lightning strike, I would “outrun” it. Now I was going up the hill, which put me in a more vulnerable position, since the hill overlay flat plains and the houses were far way. So now I was in “plain view” of the lightning. And if it chose to strike, it would have a great opportunity to hit me. Further, as I peddled up the hill, my velocity slowed to a snail’s pace, since the hill was very steep.
Then bam! The lightning flashed again in the distance, and the thunder roared. That was so far away. Yet, it scared me. What if it suddenly struck closer? But should it not hit the housetops first? The housetops are made of metal, aren’t they? And they are higher. I’ve never heard of an incident where a housetop was struck by lightning. So why should it leave everywhere and hit me? Yet I felt scared. But should I be?
I had heard a story when I was a child of a man being hit by lightning. He was walking down the road one rainy night, and he had a cutlass in his hand. This was in the then British Guiana, and what is now called “Guyana.” On account of the metal cutlass, the lightning was attracted to him, and came straight down and hit him. He died on the spot. If the story was true or fictional, I cannot be sure, but it was told to me by my grandparents, who said it was true.
I was told not to touch metal objects when lightning was flashing. But my whole bicycle was made of metal! I pedaled harder. But what was the use? If the lightning aimed for me from its home in the clouds, could I really outpace it? Was I really “as fast as lighting”? Not a chance! I was going pretty slow!
Now I am approaching the metal gate of the school compound, where I lived at the time. I had no choice but the open it. And then bam! The lightning flashed and the thunder roared all around me, but I reached home safely!