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 Longfellow..do 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 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
Walking the fenceless fields of air;
And from each ample fold
Of the clouds about him rolled
The showery rain,
As the farmer scatters his grain.
He can behold
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,
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
In the rapid and rushing river of Time.
Earth’s cycle of replenishment and the quenching of the earth’s thirst…wonderful rain!