the rains...

May 16, 2006

It might be summer showers…it might be the pre-monsoon showers….but I do love the rain. The hot day wanes as the clouds come gathering in, grey and heavy with the promise of refreshing water… the air suddenly cools down, the breeze develops into a wind that drives the day’s dust before it…recently, we looked out of our balcony to see a funnel of dust coming out of the mouth of the yet-to-be-completed underpass of the Jayadeva Circle flyover…quite a sight!

The heavy clouds begin roiling overhead; the quality of the light begins to change, giving that luminous golden glow that I am sure artists and photographers yearn to capture on canvas or camera.

Lightning begins to play; thunder follows; the gods are either fighting each other, or jostling playfully, up above.

The first drops patter down, the thirsty earth soaks them all up. More, larger drops follow, until the sprinkle is a downpour. All the dust will be washed out of the trees, the grass will sprout again, puddles will form…in fact, in Bangalore, floods will happen….

I spare a thought for the daily wage earners who are affected by the rain…if I was a corn-on-the-cob seller in Cubbon Park, I surely would not like the approach of the rain clouds. I think of those who have inadequate shelter…those who have to make their way home through piled-up, choc-a-bloc traffic and water-logged roads..and am profoundly thankful I am not of these.

For me, the rain is a source of joy. I love to walk, cycle, drive in the rain…even a little cup of chai tastes so much better at the local Darshini when it is sipped in the cool of a wet evening. If I am swimming at the time, it is even more enjoyable as the drops patter down on the pool and I push myself through water stippled by the rain.

I grew up in Bengal; Bengali literature deals extensively with the monsoon. Indians are not great sun-lovers; the sun is an enemy, robbing the earth of precious moisture; it is the rain-bearing clouds which bring back fertility and growth.

The subject of rains form a major part of other literature too…Sawan and Bhadon, the monsoon months, as an image for tears is such a common imagery in Hindi poetry. I love the song, “thenn merkku paruva kaattru Theni pakkam veeshum bothu chaaral….mutthu chaaral”; I love this poem by they teach it in school now, as they used to do when I was a child?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: RAIN IN SUMMER How beautiful is the rain! After the dust and heat, In the broad and fiery street, In the narrow lane, How beautiful is the rain! How it clatters along the roofs, Like the tramp of hoofs How it gushes and struggles out From the throat of the overflowing spout! Across the window-pane It pours and pours; And swift and wide, With a muddy tide, Like a river down the gutter roars The rain, the welcome rain! The sick man from his chamber looks At the twisted brooks; He can feel the cool Breath of each little pool; His fevered brain Grows calm again, And he breathes a blessing on the rain. From the neighboring school Come the boys, With more than their wonted noise And commotion; And down the wet streets Sail their mimic fleets, Till the treacherous pool Ingulfs them in its whirling And turbulent ocean. In the country, on every side, Where far and wide, Like a leopard's tawny and spotted hide, Stretches the plain, To the dry grass and the drier grain How welcome is the rain! In the furrowed land The toilsome and patient oxen stand; Lifting the yoke encumbered head, With their dilated nostrils spread, They silently inhale The clover-scented gale, And the vapors that arise From the well-watered and smoking soil. For this rest in the furrow after toil Their large and lustrous eyes Seem to thank the Lord, More than man's spoken word. Near at hand, From under the sheltering trees, The farmer sees His pastures, and his fields of grain, As they bend their tops To the numberless beating drops Of the incessant rain. He counts it as no sin That he sees therein Only his own thrift and gain. These, and far more than these, The Poet sees! He can behold Aquarius old Walking the fenceless fields of air; And from each ample fold Of the clouds about him rolled Scattering everywhere The showery rain, As the farmer scatters his grain. He can behold Things manifold That have not yet been wholly told,-- Have not been wholly sung nor said. For his thought, that never stops, Follows the water-drops Down to the graves of the dead, Down through chasms and gulfs profound, To the dreary fountain-head Of lakes and rivers under ground; And sees them, when the rain is done, On the bridge of colors seven Climbing up once more to heaven, Opposite the setting sun. Thus the Seer, With vision clear, Sees forms appear and disappear, In the perpetual round of strange, Mysterious change From birth to death, from death to birth, From earth to heaven, from heaven to earth; Till glimpses more sublime Of things, unseen before, Unto his wondering eyes reveal The Universe, as an immeasurable wheel Turning forevermore In the rapid and rushing river of Time.

Earth’s cycle of replenishment and the quenching of the earth’s thirst…wonderful rain!