Monday, February 20, 2012

Raindrops, raindrops, fall upon my window...

The rain is one of the most beautiful gifts of Nature, especially if it is unseasonal rain. A few days back we had a rather unexpected spell of rain here. I had been going around all morning that day with a gloomy face, and after the brief shower I could feel a marked improvement in my spirits. It was as if some invisible load had been lifted from my heart.

Last Wednesday the day had been cloudy right from the beginning. We did not think much of it; rain is the last thing that we expect in February. So we were really surprised to hear the roll of thunder sometime around seven in the evening. I kept thinking it was the sound of cars and furniture being moved around until I saw a flash of lightning through the window of the living room. And then came the rain. It was nothing extraordinary, just a drizzle. But for me it seemed to be a relief, from what I am not sure. Maybe I had just got fed up of the unending dryness all around me for the last few months. I was sitting there in front of the computer, drumming at the keyboard aimlessly, and then when I heard the first drops coming down, I simply ran to the balcony to feel the rain on my hands. The smell of wet mud that always drives me into fits of ecstasy was already there. Any other time of the year I would have stolen off to the terrace to get wet, but the evening was chilly, and getting wet in the rain was not a very pleasant prospect. Instead, I sat in the balcony watching the rain coming down to soothe the thirst of the dry earth, and memories of childhood flooded into my mind.

When I was a kindergartener most of my favourite games were related to splashing around in mud and water. The loner that I have always been, I preferred to go on these watery expeditions all by myself. After the rains a long stretch of puddles would be formed right in front of our house. As long as the sun was in the sky, I would sit in those puddles and make mud toys. At first my mother used to scold me for the soggy state that I got into, and the frocks I managed to spoil in the process. Later though she just resigned herself to the fact that I was not going to change my ways, and simply warned me not to stray into the road. Another game that I loved to play was jumping in the puddles and watching the ripples formed in the water. I remember once I had managed to induce a slightly older and very prim and proper friend of mine to step into the water. She had complied only after making me promise not to splash any water at her. Of course I had no intention of keeping my promise, and the moment she stooped to look closely into the puddle, I picked up a handful of the muddy water and threw it right at her face! I still laugh helplessly when I visualize the horrified expression on her face and her shrill voice screaming that I had spoiled her hair!

When we were in primary school, all of us loved to make paper boats. In fact, I used to return from school every day with at least five of those boats tucked into my bag. Whenever it rained, whether we were at home or at school, we would set afloat dozens of those boats and pretend to be dacoits and princesses on board ships going to distant lands in search of priceless treasures. We had such lovely times then, letting our imaginations run away with us. In fact, I think those were the days when my classmates’ creativity was at its peak. We made up impossible stories and lived them in our make-believe worlds, and found nothing absurd about them. Sometimes it started raining while we were playing with our boats, and then we would pretend that there was a cyclone and the ship was rocking helplessly on the sea, and all of us would pray that we may survive the night without being tossed overboard (this was during the time when the computer game called Sindbad was very popular and all of us had gathered some idea about life on sea from it. Also The Pirates of the Caribbean series had just begun, so we all loved to think of ourselves as future Jack Sparrows!).

But not all of my rainy memories are from primary school. Last year we had a long monsoon, and I spent many of those days getting drenched on the terrace or in the garden. I remember one day more clearly than others. It was a Sunday, and I had been studying all morning. So when the clouds overcast the sky and the rain came down in heavy showers, I ran down to the garden and stood barefoot in the soft grass, facing the sky and feeling the water running down my nose. I had been dancing around and enjoying myself for about five minutes when something like a little pebble fell on my foot. I looked down to see what it was, and to my delight it was a hailstone! By the time I had finished examining it, hailstones were falling in dozens. One the size of an egg fell right in front of me, and at that moment ma called me and asked me to get inside. By the time I had taken a bath and changed into fresh clothes I could hear the hailstorm raging outside. Later we heard that that evening there had been an unusual amount of hail, and some houses had broken window panes and tin roofs. My mother was certainly glad that she called me in when she did; none of us would have liked a big block of ice to fall on my head!

As is the rule of Nature, the most beautiful of her creations can sometimes become pretty troublesome, if not deadly. One day after school last year, those of us who travel by public bus found ourselves in a fix. There had been some accident, so no bus was running on the 8B route that afternoon. None of us carried a mobile, and we did not have enough money with us to book an auto, and the driver was very uncooperative and refused to lower his fare. To top all that, it had started drizzling. Anyway, I managed to call my father from a telephone booth, but he came to pick me up on the scooter, so my friends couldn’t go with me. The next day I heard from them that they had walked all the way to St. Xavier’s school in the heavy shower, getting drenched to the skin, where they had luckily been spotted by a neighbour who was in his car, and had managed to go home with him almost a hour and a half after school was over!

I have heard stories from my father about troubles caused by too much of rain. Once it had rained so much for so long in Durgapur that the river Damodar had flooded. For a day, it had become the largest river on earth, larger than even the Amazon! All the sluice gates of the Durgapur Barrage had been opened, and the area around it had become one gigantic lake, with people going around in boats! Another time he was travelling by train on a hot summer day, and standing at the door of the compartment enjoying the breeze. There was a cyclone, and the rest of the journey he continued to stand at the door freezing to the bone!

Still, I wish we had more of rain here in our place. My mother says that too much of rain makes her gloomy, and she doesn’t like dark cloudy days. But I enjoy myself very much indeed. Even when I am not getting wet, I love to hear the sound of the rain. It helps calm my mind. And in those moments I pity all my classmates who are so poor that they will never learn to savour the richness of Nature and all her different faces…


Debarshi Saha said...

Dear Urbi,

Very nice indeed.I really liked reading your write-up.You have expressed your emotions very articulately in language that is practical and bordering on the imaginative,albeit managing to invoke the same dreamy state some people like to find themselves in whenever it rains.Rain is such a wonderful creation of our Lord-No matter however you express it in the framework of words,it still remains so out of reach.You could think of it as Ambrosia,the life giving potion;you could listen to the pitter-patter sounds it makes and be lulled into a sense of completion;you could even trace the life of a rain-drop as it trickles down the window pane;finally,you could cast a glance at Nature and watch her rejoice.The raindrops glistening on the leaves,the palette of the sky preparing itself for the beautiful rainbow,the trill of the drenched birds as they celebrate yet another facet of Mother Nature-Well,you could go on writing and yet never come to a conclusion.Noticing your blurry reflection in the mud-puddles,you could also be reminded about the state of human beings and their internal reflection..If storms could be designated as Nature's Yin,I would designate the rain as Nature's Yang.Don't you feel so?

Well,it has been a long,rambling comment.Once again,a very nice write-up and a pleasure to read.Keep writing!

With best wishes,

Rashmi Datta said...

Dear Urbi,

Thank you for writing this post. It was a lovely read.

Rain has had this miraculous healing effect on me too right from my childhood. The smell of the earth soon after rain has been my favourite fragrance for as long as I remember and a cloudy sky always makes me happy. There has been an unexpected shower in Kolkata too a few days ago. We heard the sound of thunder just as we sat for dinner and I was overjoyed. I am most excited when it rains in the night when I can sit on my bed beside the window with a book in my hand. I extremely enjoy such moments.

The following morning, we had another surprise. The colour of the entire surroundings had changed from the usual dusty brown to a beautiful green – the rain had washed off the thick layer of dust, soot and brick powder from the surface of the leaves. (The complex that I live in is bordered by an extremely dilapidated tar road with large potholes which has been ‘mended’ by dumping the potholes with large chunks of bricks which obviously only made things worse. Every time a vehicle passes, the air is filled with dust and brick powder which ultimately settles on the trees and our homes.) The rain thus also allowed us to open all the windows of our house after a long time.

Last year, when it had rained continuously, our whole complex and the surrounding roads were water logged. To cross the three meter road outside the main gate, we had to wade through knee-deep water. The rickshaw-pullers had started something very amusing. They ferried people across the road charging anything between Rs.5 to Rs. 15 depending on the depth of the water. It looked like a kind of semi-boat service!

But, indeed Nature’s beauties can become quite terrifying and dangerous. My mother-in-law had once told me of the notorious annual storm that used to occur in her hometown, Krishnanagar. The strong gales would leave many people stranded and would blow away the tin roofs of many houses. As a child, she was stranded for hours during one such stormy day while her mother was worried sick .

Inspite of all this, I still like the dark clouds, the winds and the rain very much. Your post brought back many memories of the past which made me ramble for a long time. I hope the comment is not too long.

Do keep writing.


Shilpi said...

Dear Pupu,

This post of yours goes to the top with a couple of my favourites. Last week, when this essay of yours popped up and I read it through in one go and walked (marched) back home I could feel the rain and your memories - old and new - swirling around in me and I'm sure I must have looked like a fuzzy-faced but happy and woolly headed sheep on the roads. Could quite see you coming back from school armed with paper be floated along the high seas with accompanying tales of treasures and grand adventures...

Love the rain myself, and indeed there's something about the smell of the damp earth after and during the rains and maybe even for some moments before the rains come down. It's something terribly tangible (my mouth almost wants to taste the mud then). Here, the smell is very, very different. I think it smells of a very faint mix of mint and eucalyptus and leaves and sometimes of flowers. I have sniffed furiously when out-of-doors and in the rains but even near the river, there is no remotely similar smell although the rains, the lightning, the drumbeat rolls and sudden cracks of thunder look and feel and sound gorgeous next to the river. Even the steady pit-pat and drops of rain falling into the river look and feel nice.

I didn't know you'd had a hailstorm last year! Thanks for telling me. Good thing your mum did call you in when she did. Your playing in mud puddles reminded me of you as a 6 year old and your mum telling me how you could keep yourself entertained for hours with mud, water holes, and even sand. It also reminded me of that short story, Sorcery by your dad.

I have taken walks in storms and fantastic rainshowers and walked out on an afternoon that they were predicting a tornado but I don't like getting caught in a storm while inside a vehicle and driving while squinting through a less-hazy spot on the windshield but not really seeing much. I have no idea how human beings drive to be honest, and especially in what would be beautiful weather if one were walking but certainly inclement weather if one is driving. I remember one friend from primary school telling me about that famous flooding of the Damodar, which your dad told you about. I had all but forgotten the memory but your recounting of so many tales along so many trails reminded me suddenly. Did Damodar really become the largest river on the planet?...My God, it must have been scary.

I have definitely become old though. I hate getting drenched through without a windcheater (wouldn't be caught dead in an umbrella though) and I wear the bottoms of my trousers roll'd as soon as the rain starts pouring. Yet and even though I don't like thinking about my years from my school days or later, I remember cycling back from school with the rain falling fast and furious and thinking back then that nothing could beat that moment of glory...I think I can somewhat sense what your mum feels even though I love the rains. Cloudy days, drizzly days (and sometimes Mondays) get me down if they persist for long stretches. I start feeling like going under a blanket with a torch or else I start feeling restless and lonesome, and don't know what to do to shoo away the blues. Going off for a walk or listening to the rain sometimes improves my mood then, and some sudden laughs or conversations cure the mood...

Your post reminded me of that Julie Andrews song of course but also of this other lovely one from a nice movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid that Bach talked about in Illusions. I watched it back in my college-days -

And here's one by the Eurythmics too. There's a funny story with this one for it started playing on the radio one dark and stormy eve' when I was sort of speeding along the highway...

Take care and keep writing. This one I will keep re-visiting.


sayantika said...

Dear Pupu,

This one is a beautiful post. It brings memories of the rain and my childhood back. I remember a fierce thunderstorm once raged Durgapur, when I was five perhaps. I never remember seeing such a thunderstorm ever afterwards, or it might be that because I was so small, it seemed all the more overwhelming to me. All my playhouse utensils, which were kept at the verandah in the back of the house had been blown away and a huge gulmohar tree at the corner of our street had been uprooted. I was also caught up in Kolkata during the Aila with my mother and both of us had heaved a sigh of relief when we finally reached home late in the night.
However, the pleasant memories are more in number. Be it the earthy scent or wading through puddles or just getting wet, I loved all of them. Once I had even collected hail stones in a bottle, only to see them melting away. In fact, your post has inspired me to write one on my blog about my memories of the rain. Thanks and I wish rains always bring joy to you. Keep writing such lovely posts.

With love,
Sayantika di.

Sunandini Mukherjee said...

Dear Urbi,
This post of yours took me back to my primary school days.Being brought up in the DPL township,where one still finds a lot of greenery,I love the rain like you do.We always welcomed rain(and still do)with tall trees that line our street shaking their heads violently and throughout the monsoon our house looked like a cottage hidden by tall grasses and a variety of trees.Like you,I had also been very fond of spoiling my frocks and shoes in the puddles formed outside the house,took delight in afloating paper boats and picking up hailstones from the garden.The evenings were spent singing rain songs(especially those of Tagore)and sometimes my parents told me to listen to the medley of noises outside that included the patter of the raindrops,the croaking of frogs and the sound of cricket.
I had much fun even in the school since the playground turned into a sea whenever it rained and despite our teachers telling us not to,some of us would always go out in the recess to drench ourselves and splashing water at one another.The skyline looked beautiful from the third-floor corridor of the school and I was often found near the window savouring the sight of the trees waving their heads against the cloudy sky.
And I agree with your last sentence-what a pity that most of the'good'pupils have not learnt to look outside their windows let alone admire Nature.
With love,
Sunandini di.