It was a warm, lazy Tuesday morning in the middle of summer. All of Ro's friends were down at the lake splashing around in the water, but Ro was having her "Nan-day." She crawled under her bed and pulled out the big leather book. The start of every Nan-day was the same: she would lay the book on her chest, close her eyes and think back to the that day at the Hospital. She watched Nan's frail fingers as they searched for something hidden under her pillow. As she pulled out the book her eyes lit up. Ro was struck by the contrast between her Nan's tired, wrinkled face and those bright green eyes. At once, Nan was the most beautiful woman in the whole world.
"Now listen closely cupcake," she had said. "This is the book of curiosities and it has been in our family for many many years. Everyone who owns it must look to it for wisdom and add his or her own wisdom through discovery."
Ro knew this was good-bye. For the entire twelve years of her life she and Nan had hosted "Curiosity days." On those days, Ro was allowed and encouraged to ask Nan as many questions as she could possibly think of and the two of them would go in search for the answers together. Ro knew that Nan had the answers more often than not, but depending on her mood Nan could make it especially challenging for Ro to find the answers for herself.
Tears filled Ro's eyes as Nan continued, "this book will guide you in finding the answers to ANY question you might have in the years to come. And when it doesn't you will use the techniques we have practiced over the years to find the answer and add it to the book. Do you remember everything I've taught you?"
"That the true adventurer answers a question with a new set of questions. There is no end to an answer, only a new road of discovery. We must remain curious and open and ever searching."
"Very good cupcake. Promise me you will not let yourself get discouraged or lazy, or scared. And if you ever do, grab this book and let it help you." Nan stared into Ro's eyes as if to tell her that a piece of her would always be there by Ro's side.
"Right," she said, "now, cupcake, what is today's question?"
Nan had passed away in her sleep that very evening.
It was two years since that day but Ro kept hosting Nan-days every Sunday. Her friends had laughed and made remarks at first; telling her it was morbid to spend weekends with a dead Grandmother. Yet they soon settled into the idea and would often show up on Sunday afternoon curious to find out what answers she had searched for earlier that day.
"Nan, today's question is, WHY do we see rainbows?" "This week in Science class we learned about what causes rainbows: the rain's water droplets refract and then reflect the sunlight to create an arch of light in the sky. I thought that was pretty cool. But what I now want to know is WHY do we see them." "Have you seen the youtube video of the guy at Yosemite Nan? It's very funny. He makes a three minute video about seeing a double rainbow. His excitement got me wondering about rainbows."
Ro flipped all the way to the index of the big book. R...Rabbit...Race.....Radicals...Rainbows. There it was, of course- thought Ro. She was still impressed to find every word she had searched for over the last two years in that index. Rainbows...pg 237. She flipped to the correct page.
Why do we see rainbows?- it read. Look to Descartes and Newton for a scientific explanation of the phenomenon. If this answer does not suffice look for its use culturally. Mandela and Desmond Tutu used the rainbow as the symbol for a united South Africa. It has been used to represent the Gay community and that of the German Peasant's War in the 16th Century. Then imagine the conditions under which rainbows appear. What answer do you find?
Ro closed her eyes. She imagined a dark stormy sky with thick droplets of raining pouring from the sky. The grey, dreariness of it made Ro feel heavy and sad. All of sudden a crack opened through the clouds to let a bright ray of sunshine in. As the crack widened the sunlight struck the water droplets and a beautiful rainbow formed across the sky. The harder Ro stared at the crack in the sky, the brighter the rainbow became.
She imagined Nelson Mandela staring through his cell window on Robben Island as the storm over Cape Town split open and let the sun back in.
Hope! -thought Ro. No, no, it's more than hope! Rainbows remind us that life is made up of sunny clear blue skies and dark stormy ones. It is the interplay of the two that adds real colour to our lives.
"Thanks Nan"-Ro whispered. "I've known a lot of rainbows in my life and I promise I will keep looking out for them always."
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