Traveling in locals (assuming that they are working) during the heavy monsoon showers is an unique experience. You have the surreal pleasure of enjoying the beauty of the gray skies and the cool moist breeze – without getting wet or squashing through mud!!
You can watch the silver droplets rain from the sky, you can see the thirsty trees spreading their branches out towards the heavens, and some will even dance to the preppy beats of the wind. You can marvel at the gray clouds with streaks of pale sunlight cutting in between. They seem to have thrown a dark blanket over the city, and Time has curled itself up in it, and gone to sleep. It’s hard to say whether it’s 6 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon or 5 in the evening, if not for your dogged watch – the ultimate workaholic!
You can bring your face close to the window bars, close your eyes, and enjoy the soft, wet kisses of the raindrops.
Or you can be like me – you can take a seat back, and enjoy the masterpiece.
I sit in the college canteen amidst the usual hustle-bustle of students, nursing a bowl of hot Manchow soup between my hands. The warmth feels nice on this dreary, cold morning. It has been raining continuously since yesterday afternoon, but knowing this is Mumbai, it will continue raining ceaselessly till tomorrow afternoon, if not longer. The wooden chairs painted a bright, sunshine yellow are the only spot of brightness under the dull gray sky, and I wonder if that is the reason they painted the chairs yellow in the first place. It is a strange colour to pick, without any thought or reason. Surely there must have been some reason…I pursue this train of thought for a while before realizing I am thinking about chairs!
With lack of anything else to do, I sip some of the hot soup, and burn my tongue as a result.
The cat comes up to me and meows piteously. The cat is our canteen cat. Nobody knows when and where she came from, but she is a constant presence in the college canteen. She isn’t an ordinary cat either. She has perfectly mastered the art of begging. She spends her days moving from student to student, meowing piteously and looking at us with pleading eyes (who knew a cat could master the ‘puppy eyes’ technique so well!) in a way that made it seem as if she has been starving for days (despite her fat girth). “Shoo!” I tell her, not knowing how exactly to serve soup to a cat. She gives me another adorably cute look, before realizing that I was going to stay firm.
With a final hiss, she moves on to the group at the next table. The girls ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over her, and as most of their kind do pet her belly and feed her tidbits from their plates; while the boys, as most of their kind do while the objects of their attention do not give them attention, glare sullenly. I spend a few more minutes observing the most popular feline socialite of our college. When in between there were rumours of her being pregnant, the entire college had been in a tizzy. The college newspaper even did a story on possible kitten names!
I take another spoonful of soup, savouring the warm, spicy taste.
A classmate walks by, holding a beach towel. I can’t stop myself from asking: “What are you doing with a beach towel?” The guy pauses, and looks confused for a minute, “I am not really sure. I had an epiphany that you needed it”.
“Why would I need a beach towel?” I ask mystified.
“You don’t need it. You need to see it” he explains patiently, before walking away.
I continue drinking my soup, and wonder idly why the tables were painted red…?
I am at my desk, poring over the reading material for tomorrow’s class, when a loud shout of glee breaks my concentration.
I hear a steady pitter-patter….could it really be?!….I run to the adjoining balcony. Yes, it is raining!
My shriek of elation adds to the cacophony of the gleeful cries and whoops of joy of the neighbourhood kids, who have run out to get wet in the first showers of the year.
I stretch my hands out, as far as they go and try to catch as many of the delightfully wet raindrops as I can. They slither down my palm, leaving a delightfully cool sensation behind.
Now comes the strong gusts of Wind – someone must have told it that the raindrops are here, and the wild monsoon party, can finally begin!!
The rich aroma of damp earth and wet grass overwhelms my senses, and I breathe it in — revel in it.
After days of blistering heat, the cool monsoon is a refreshing change. Like the sympathetic smile of a close friend after a careworn day, the sight of the pouring clouds fill me with joy and make me forget all my worries; like the soothing sensation of a mother’s touch, when you are down with fever, the feel of the raindrops on my palm soothe me; like the melody of a lover’s laugh, the soft sound of the falling rain and the passionate cries of the wind fill me with contended jubilation.
Nature rejoices with me. The cypress trees dance with wild abandon in the wind, the glistening leaves play to the tune of the rain drops and the children dance with joy.
I know, soon, within a few weeks probably, there will come a day, when I will be tired of the monsoon, and the mud, and the damp humidity, and long for the sunrays. But that day is not today – today I will lean out of the window, close my eyes, and welcome the monsoon.
…..the notes lie untouched on my desk.