“As a romantic ideal, turbulent, impoverished India could still weave its spell, and the key to it all – the colours, the moods, the scents, the subtle, mysterious light, the poetry, the heightened expectations, the kind of beauty that made your heart miss a beat – well, that remained the monsoon.”
Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater. One of the early books that I read on rain.
Watching a leaden sky over a cup of tea, hoping it would rain, really rain, hoping the clouds overshadow the sun, for once wishing darkness overpower the light, and hoping it’s soon. A bulbul nodding in approval perched on the balcony railings.
Waiting for the rains like the Chataka bird (as we call it in Odiya, cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus), as she waits for rains to quench her thirst (it is said that Chataka does not drink water found on earth and instead chooses to drink only fresh rain water as it falls from the sky).
I have often thought of the associated consequences, floods and droughts and all other inconveniences, devastations, but it’s never felt as if rain is the cause. Unlike how Maugham describes rains
…It was not like our soft English rain that drops gently on the earth, it was unmerciful; and somehow terrible; you felt it in the malignancy of the primitive powers of nature. It did not pour, it flowed. It was like a deluge from heaven, and it rattled on the roof of corrugated iron with a steady persistence that was maddening. It seemed to have a fury of its own. And sometimes you felt that you must scream if it did not stop, and then suddenly you felt powerless, as though your bones had suddenly become soft; and you were miserable and hopeless. (Rain, W.S. Maugham)
We are the cause of the devastations and inconveniences.
Rains have a much larger purpose, beyond what we see and fathom.
Those very tiny drops that stick to your hair like drops of dew on early morning grass.
One of those late night studying at Bangor, living close to the Menai Strait, on the top attic room of a lovely slate roofed house, I had the view of the street, and the calm water of the strait, and the Bangor hills. I remember it started raining, which of course was almost an everyday phenomenon in November. Watching this one I realised what’s lashing rain. I still have that image in my mind.
In Kerala, light drizzle is a rarity. You can actually hear the approaching rain, a kind of whooshing sound. As if it gives people time to get their clothes home from the clothesline. All of them would always have an umbrella when they step out.
And there was this divine journey I took to Attapady to meet a dear friend. It rained the five hours train journey, and the following two hours car drive. So indescribably beautiful. Such contentment of means and end in synchrony with each other. Followed by a trip to the silent valley, the forest drenched in the incessant rain and the feeling of being blown away by the wind and the rain atop the watch tower.
Forever etched in memory.
The rain washed trees, glistening leaves and flowers, the scent of wet earth.
To sit quietly in the night and watch, in the darkness, nothing but the few fireflies and shadows of the trees in the night light.
Nothing but the night and the sound of the rain.