Rendezvous with rain
Maybe this is not the right time to pen a paean to rains, since we’ve had to face so many deluges in rapid succession. While you are probably crying like Little Tommy of the nursery rhyme “Rain, rain go away”, I’m at my window, ready to welcome a real good shower that the skies are promising. I reach out and catch the raindrops in my palms, cool and refreshing.
I love these beautiful heavenly drops, not only because they are cool and pleasing but also because the rains create a mood, an atmosphere, an ambience of dreaminess where the real world blends seamlessly into the imaginary, the present becomes one with the past and you make a wonderful rendezvous with all the rains you have seen, at all places and times. The very sight of rain from my tiny window wells up within me all the memories of feeling the rain at different times and places.
Have you been to Santiniketan, famed for its red soil, during the rains? Those special times conjure up a mélange of beautiful scenes before my eyes — the snow-white Kash flowers swaying in the rain, the red undulating Khowais and the vast paddy fields brimming over with water, the upturned bottle-shaped nests of poor weaver birds perilously shaking in the wind.
Imagine yourself riding a boat in the tempestuous waters of the Kopai. All of a sudden you hear the sound of thunder, echoing and resounding through the open fields. The rain sets in, your boat swings, first rhythmically and then wildly, the river swells and its banks are washed. The red soil sticks to your feet as you try to walk. But the magic of red soil is that the water does not collect for long hours, but drains away quickly. That’s why I enjoy rains in this place so much!
I remember a jeep ride through the Saranda forests in the hills of Kiriburu, a mine-area in Singbhum, Jharkhand. It was an uphill journey when the rains set in heavily, giving birth to a myriad of merry streams snaking through the hills and crisscrossing our path every now and then. I will never forget the shocking red colour of the waters, resembling in every way the proverbial streams of blood, thanks to the rich endowment of iron-ore in the soil!
The rain intensifies as I write this article. Suddenly the pen falters from my hand as I hear the deafening crash of a thunder. It reminds me of an unforgettable experience of rains in Digha. We had gone for a walk on the sea-beach not knowing that there had been a warning of tidal waves. As we sat sipping tea on the beach we saw pitch-dark clouds advancing like a wall from the eastern corner of the sky.
The waves, as if on cue, came alive, rolling over and over, crashing against the beaches. Gradually the dusky light melted into absolute, pitch darkness and the roar of thunder combined with the over-powering sound of the waves to create a doomsday-like effect. There were no people around us, only the resounding, aggressive roar, an approaching sea occasionally lit up by lightning and massive clouds towering above us.
Streaks of lightning lit up the sky like a hundred fireworks spreading purple fans of light across the sea, giving instantaneous illusions of sunrise. We took to running, quick and breathless, driven on by a strong sea breeze that buffeted us from behind. For the first time I realised how winds could blow away people, cattle and huts; how tidal waves, tall as towers, drown vast tracts of land.
A few years after this rendezvous with rain in the seaside we once again encountered the monsoon, in its fiercest and wildest form, in the wilderness of the high Himalayas. We were on our way from Khati to Dowali, some 16 kms distance, on the trek route to Pindari and suddenly the sky broke down on us, catching us unawares in the midst of a dense forest, with no human habitat nearby.
The cascading, merry springs gave way to a torrent of new springs suddenly stirred into life by the catastrophic rain. At one side were the proud Himalayas towering above us all and on the other side was the deep, voracious gorge waiting to swallow us below. I still don’t know how our good ol’ feet carried us to Dowali where the chowkidar had prepared a beautiful, warm fire for us.
The rains outside my window have ceased now. But the skies are yet to clear up. My pen stops now as the musical sound of rain comes to an end. The magic spell is broken… the mosaic of remembered sights and sounds is gone. The rendezvous with rain has ended for now, but not forever —
“Rain, rain, come again
And again and again...”