Shreyasi, bless her soul, got me nostalgic about rain. (so this post is all her fault!)
Now, I am not a rain-person, if you know what I mean. I love chill winds blowing on my face and tousling my hair. I love frosty winter and I love snow (impressions of childhood remain through life).
I do have some fond memories of the rain. When we moved back to Kolkata permanently, it was in the middle of a stifling, oppressive summer. I remember, the painful prickly heat that erupted all over our bodies and I remember the ‘load-shedding’ and I obviously don’t have any fondness associated with these experiences. Towards the end of summer, we were carted to my grandfather’s place in Kalyani and at the very least we could share our angst with the rest of the cousins who had gathered there for summer holidays. Then suddenly, one afternoon, it all changed. The sky turned dark. Thunder rumbled. The winds turned restless. Pushed by the strong gusty wind the dust, the dirt, the sand, the littered plastic, the torn papers all rose to a grubby crescendo in the middle of the tarred road. Then the skies opened. Big drops, followed by smaller incessant drops. The smell of wet earth. Soon the rain tried to tame the winds and thus ensued a tussle. We rushed to the first floor terrace and ran around singing and dancing in the rain without a care till our parents threatened us with Dr. Sen’s bitter medicines (Dr. Sen, our then family doctor had one set of bitter white pills that he administered no matter what the complaint and needless to say it was on our most hated list next only to holiday homework). Therefore, my first ‘Kalboishakhi’ left a massive impression.
Later, in Kolkata, the most enjoyable part of rains was the rainy-day holidays at school. Once, I don’t remember the year, our school was inundated during monsoon season and school was closed for almost a week. When we returned to our ground floor classrooms, the stagnated water had left its mark on the walls. The other interesting part was the leeches that infested the water-logged lanes and the way one had to pour salt over them to get them off the skin. This, for us, was straight out of ‘Book of Alien’ and our maid with her embellished, inflated stories fired our imagination of blood-thirsty leeches sucking humans dry in their bid to take over the world. Count Dracula of the Waterworld!
As an adult I haven’t really enjoyed rains, except once in Goa where, we were there for about 10 days during the monsoon and to see it rain over the sea was amazing.
I never quite liked the Mumbai rains. They are careless and inconsiderate, unlike in Bangalore, where it rains mostly at night.
But rains also meant “khichuri” and “eelishh maach” in our Kolkata home. It meant watching the floating paper-boats with our names on the flooded streets till they were sunk by the waves of a rushing car. It meant damp, limp hair that just wouldn’t sit straight on my head. It meant moist white mold on our school shoes. It meant competition for the most attractive raincoat at school. It meant a regular ‘health checkup’ of all umbrellas at home before the rains. It meant wearing only well-worn (read torn!) shoes and saving all new shoes for less messy months. It meant many an innovative excuse for not doing homework. It meant waking up scared in the middle of the night with the sound of a violent downpour. It meant ‘dead’ telephone lines and power-cuts. It meant sharing an umberella and a tea. It meant drenched bike rides. It meant holding eachother close under a sheltering tree.
Oh! How I wish it rained again like that.