Reminiscing about Rain


It has been hot and humid for the past few days. It is now officially summer and the mercury has been soaring to 90s in the afternoon. The weather man has been predicting thunderstorms and showers but the overcast sky has only yielded a few drops of rain. Just when you think the rain is going to pickup it disappears as quickly as it had appeared. Living in a temperature controlled house and workplace; the only way rain can disrupt my life is by ruining any outdoor weekend plans. Otherwise it is just a phenomenon of nature like night and day, summer and winter.
I vividly remember the time, though it now seems eons ago, when Ma would keep a sharp eye on the sky for any sign of rain. At the first inkling Ma would rush to the terrace to gather the clothes drying on a line. “Wish the rain came an hour later, these were almost dry” is what she would mostly say when kaal boiskhakhi or the howling summer storm would rattle the small green mangoes off the trees and drench the parched land with a torrential downpour. A makeshift line would go up in the dining room spanning the length of the room where the saris and the pajamas would do their little jig under the whirring ceiling fan. This makeshift line would become a permanent fixture during the monsoons and drying wet laundry would constantly vex Ma. Driers existed but in other side of the world, in ours we were at the mercy of the sun. Rain always prompted a flurry of activities in our house. Work was divided, in our two storey house, between my grandparents, my sister and I, we each covered a section; making sure each window was bolted. That was not the end of it; the wooden windows could not always keep the water out. Any small crack or gap was enough to send water trickling in. My grandfather would then line the windows with rags to soak any incoming water.
At that time the urban sprawl had not yet taken over; from our terrace we could clearly see open fields a few miles away. Some of this land was farmed but most of it was just grassland dotted with a few trees. The Dalma and the Dimna range of hills outlined the landscape. The flatness of the land ensured that we could see for miles ahead and sometimes on a clear day we would catch a glimpse of a passing train belching smoke as it chugged along the horizon. Visitors would be taken to the terrace to see the view. They would also be pointed towards the yellow house on the far left with a Patton tank on the roof where my aunt’s family lived. The black Patton water tank was a significant landmark easily distinguishing one house from the other as most houses had concrete tanks sitting on their roofs. Some days we could see the rain from the window as it moved in our direction. Under the gathering dark clouds the view of the distant grassland would become hazy as the rain engulfed them and gradually progressed towards us. It was an enthralling view!
During my last visit home all that I could see from the window was an array of tall apartment buildings each vying to be taller than the other, elbowing each other to fill up any available space. The yellow house with a Patton tank is now hidden from view and so is the smoke belching train. Change is an inevitable part of life but some things still remain untouched by time and place. The fragrance of rain soaked earth, the pitter patter of the falling drops remain the same in this and that part of the world.


One response »

  1. Very nice description of rain. I still remember the streets outside our house becoming streams filled with mud, plastic bags, leaves and torn gulmohar petals, after those kal boishakis. I can almost smell that rain and those mangoes!

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