Translated by: Lena Jayyusi and Christopher Middleton
Your eyes are two palm tree forests in early light,
Or two balconies from which the moonlight recedes
When they smile, your eyes, the vines put forth their leaves,
And lights dance . . . like moons in a river
Rippled by the blade of an oar at break of day;
As if stars were throbbing in the depths of them . . .
The song of the rain
Rippled the silence of birds in the trees . . .
Drop, drop, the rain
Yes, it is the same time of the year. I often dream of Indian monsoons around this season. Gusty winds and showers for series of days. The tiny droplets either on window panes or on the tree leaf strolling down gently.
Drenched in rains and enjoying smokey corn on roadside stalls. Walking through the wet grass or just taking a long drive in drizzles embracing the beauty of green. All memories with rains and rainy season are full of enthusiasm and freshness
I feel rejuvenated just by the lingering thoughts. My childhood days especially the pre-school and the high school ones were spent in hilly states of northeast India or to say in the Himalayas. For there are seven sisters and I have tasted a bit of land from all the seven states of unexplored India. Thus, basically, my heart belongs to the hills, mountains and to those clouds. There is something magical and mysterious about those lands. So, when I talk of monsoon, it is this part of India which comes to closest of my numerous memories of rains.
Most of the thoughts are not much different from the stories and essays compiled by Ruskin Bond in his book – Rains in the Mountains. In one of the places, he rightly wrote, “It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.” And even after a decade of being far from the Himalayas, I have found no escape. Every day, I feel like returning back to the hills. Every day, I dream of singing and trekking on the paths of those hills.
However, it is hard to recall when was the last time I had actually witnessed such monsoon in India even on its plains.
For years and years, the Indian Film Industry had pictured the Indian monsoon as the most integral part of romance. Especially in the movies that of Golden era in the sixties to eighties, they would have some or the other plot or dance sequence of rains, without which the movie would be incomplete.
But reaching out to reality, in India, apart from its aesthetics significance, the monsoon has a great economic value. For the agricultural dominant county like India, it was supposed to be the lifeline for the country, until modern agriculture with advanced round the year irrigation system came into existence. The sad part is that most of agriculture still depends on monsoon.
In recent years, rains have changed their way. They no longer remain the same, especially during July and August. Increasing unplanned urbanization has taken a toll on the natural beauty and no matter how hard Environmental agencies are trying, they cant restore the rhythm of monsoons anymore. Things like global warming have in fact made the rains pour in tits and bits around the year even in extreme winters.
All those years when I was doing a bit towards the environment through writing, I hardly realized that I was missing this part of my life. Living on plains as an adult and rains never seemed to lure me anymore.
Monsoons came and went but I never cared for I sought it as a hindrance to daily routines. It always brought extra work. Putting raincoats while driving two-wheelers and need to remove specks was a minor thing. While the major issue was to drive all the way from home to office through flooded roads and potholes.
And my office location, Alas! One has to hold the pants up to knees, put chappals and walk all the way through a highly infected waterlogged parking lot before ultimately climbing the staircase to the second floor.
Oh yeah, and those power-cuts, low-sheds, how can I forget those blackouts. With one single shot, the computer went mad and uncompleted computer files always had a hard time getting recovery. So, you had to start your file all over again after losing 10000 characters. This was not a joy, not even a fun but a mere frustration.
Now, I enjoy thinking about it. Sitting with a cuppa of hot brewed tea by the side of the window pane, I feel the drizzling joy drenching my body nourishing my soul.
Suddenly, coming to the west has made me forget those odd years and my heart yearns more for those that can be easily recalled from childhood. It’s hard to see the similarities between these two showers of rain but yes, it successfully provokes the insane past of the Himalayas in me and my nostalgic past.
I feel devoid to say that I shall take shelter to Indian monsoons once again in my dreams.
“Yes, I’d love to have a garden of my own–spacious, and full of everything that is fragrant and flowering. But if I don’t succeed, never mind–I’ve still got the dream.”
Rain in the mountains: Notes from the Himalayas – Ruskin Bond