by Sanjay Gopinath
I knelt down near the gate and picked up some soil. It smelt pristine – the unmistakable smell of fresh earth after the first rain. I looked up. The clouds were gathering again. I hastened towards home.
It has been a practice for me not to miss the first rain of the season. With the meteorological predictions getting more accurate every day, it is easy for me to make sure I was there to receive her.
The apartment is on the 9th floor. I always wanted it to overlook the green expanse, but it was never to be. Instead the staid look of concrete is what I get.
I pulled my chair to the balcony. The rain was lashing on to the chair and a few potted plants. My feet were getting wet. I think a few drops managed to get into my tea cup. But I was fine.
I have felt attached to rains; well, almost always.
My earliest memory of the rains was my first day in first standard. That day I realized that on the first day in every new academic year, the rainy season set in.
My Amma used to get me ready with the armour to fight the monsoon – the raincoat with a cap and a black umbrella. In every house a stream of instructions were given on why one should not get out in the rain and what should not be done. ‘Don’t get wet in the rain.’ ‘Don’t get into the puddles.’ ‘Watch each step, you may slip.’ ‘This is that time when all the diseases poke their heads out so beware.’.
But I loved the rains.
I would eagerly wait for the first showers and the many showers that followed. The open umbrella would be turned upside down to collect water. The rain drops were to be felt on my body, rather than splash out from the umbrella. The frogs were to be chased in the fields; heads were to be swayed in unison with the palm tops. My brother and I used to race in the small channels that carried water to the fields. We named our paper boats after the great characters in Amarchitrakatha and raced them along these streams. The not-so-tall rose apple tree was a perfect bait to trick an unsuspecting friend. We shook the branches when someone stood under the tree in an attempt to not get wet.
The fun was worth risking ‘where-the-hell-you-have-been’ looks from my Amma.
The burden of studies kept me away from the rains in the later teen years. I watched the rains from behind the windows while calculus and dynamics formulae muddled my brain. The science of rain managed to limit my imagination.
At professional college, I got back right in with the monsoons. I read, saw and experienced some great authors who characterized the rains. I read their nostalgic articles, watched the movies and the plays.
It became she.
I grew more attached to her. I studied her subtleties. I felt the rhythm in the downpour, walked barefoot on the grass after the rains. I stopped at the puddles to wet my feet again. I carefully plucked the leaf that caught just one drop of the rain and was playing in the light wind with her. I bent down to observe the drop that precariously held on to the end of the grass-blade. I ran my hands over the green carpet on the fence walls.
She lingered on even after she left.
I wrote about her secretly in my personal diaries.
Any friendship has its own share of highs and lows. Our low was soon to come. The villainess was my job, albeit for some time.
A couple of missed meetings with clients because of the weather, and I grew angry. I blamed her.
Sanity returned soon. Our friendship further matured when we started understanding each other better; rather, I understood her emotions better!
Sometimes, I longed for her even in the summer. During summers she has a special charm. I talked to her incessantly as she lashed on the aluminum sheets. She knew everything now – from my smallest joys to my greatest sorrows. We grew our companionship during our long drives in the car. The wipers danced to her tunes. Every time it wiped across the glass, she created a different design.
The demands of worldly life put pressures on me. I am no more that little boy who can run around in the rain and splash the puddles around. To conform to the ‘civilized’ society, I carry an umbrella, I stay indoors.
But our conversation continues.
I have dedicated for her a couple of days every year. I run away from city life in the middle of monsoon to a place where we can both be together. I sever my electronic and tele-connections with the world. I sit in the balcony or walk around in grasslands to enjoy her company. We reminisce our old times together.
Uttarkhand happens. Dam999 happens. The television shows some parched lands and scrolls give some news on farmer suicides. People on air talk about the havoc she has created by being there and by not being there. I try to decipher her further. Is she the same to all? Do others see the same emotions that I see? But I have no answers.
My spectacles are getting wet. I remove them and wipe them with a handkerchief. A little bird drenched in rain is sitting on the balcony railings. He looks at me and then turns his head the other way.
I see my son playing in the rain down below. There is no one around. I see his friends comfortably standing at the covered car park. They are calling him back from the rain. I look at him and smile. Coincidentally, he looks up, sees me and smiles back.
Sanjay Gopinath loves the written word and spends time reading and writing. When not doing this, he works with an IT MNC doing marketing. He tweets @sanjugopi and writes at http://vagabondmind.blogspot.