A hot brown trickle streaked down the brimming cup of tea as I gently placed it on the small glass table. Sprawling on a cane chair in our 7th floor balcony, I stared down across the wet podium-garden area. The early Sunday morning was wet and quiet. The occasional gusts of playful mist forced a slight retreat of the furniture, and its occupant, which in turn forced a soaked vigilant pigeon, perched atop the balcony railing, hop along to settle farther to the right corner. The two ever-dry small ponds in the garden were sprung to life by unabated week-long monsoon rains. The four glass roof pillared-shelters too had thin layer of water on top to cushion the falling drops. With every sip, I was observing thus-far neglected simple wonders of nature. Somewhere along this passage, the downpour turned into glimpses from childhood immersing and indulging me, leading to even more discoveries...
In the lap of Nature
The long tin roof sloping down the thick first-floor walls of our semi-pucca home had produced a short distinct familiar sound. The metal had just been hit by the first drop from the heavens heralding the onset of monsoon. With subsiding distinctiveness of successive sounds, the family dashed out into the large brick-paved courtyard to clear away the clothes line, drag in jute-rope beds, collect sun-drying strewn around grains/spices and even herd the cattle into their shed. By the time commotion ended, the scent of first rain had permeated the surroundings.
Soon, we, the carefree kids, were playing barefoot in the rain. Jostling for few moments beneath the roof-drains, we pushed each other hard. Lying in the rain, we felt the droplets prick our bodies as we battled to keep eyes wide-open. Later running down the dirty flooded village streets, we drove bicycles and their worn-out tyres and splash-sploshed. In those moments, we probably were closest to ourselves, The Nature.
The act would repeat year after year while we would also watch our ELDERS scurrying around for a shelter from the rain, looking out for an umbrella and instructing us to get inside fast. That was unimaginably abnormal!!
Back to the Future
The empty cup hit the glass-top with a clink. The pigeon fluttered and flew away. I was back in the 'future'. Decades had whizzed past in a jiffy. In these intervening years, I had joined college, landed a job, got married and had kids. Overwhelmed yet still lazing around, I strung those moments together to realize something strange. I found that I had become like my 'ELDERS'. In fact, I was an elder. Unknowingly, I had grown accustomed to seeking shelter from rain. Getting soaked in it now was no more a spontaneous act. Worse, it rather was a frequent resentment. Barefoot? My foot! Even the thought was an alien. Mind labored to replay the sound of a droplet. Too dim to hear!
Reflecting further, I questioned if I wasn't delighted with the rains any longer. Of course I was. The problem was my perspective. It was skewed. Over the years, it had embraced and latched on to the illusion of continuous 'fast life'. Wading through the relatively short-periods of recurring frenetic activities, it was conveniently ignoring the lulls. To be with Nature, it demanded A PRICE - free time (vacation), planning and potential travel.
Oh boy, I was missing something profound, something as natural as me. Tens of monsoons had glided away from right in front of my wide-shut eyes. So on that misty Sunday morning, I 'woke up' to walk down the deserted lanes again. Confounding my partner, who had just woken up, about my morning adventure, I headed down to the podium garden and let myself loose. Within next 15 minutes, my son (7 yrs) woke up too and joined me. Few minutes later my daughter (3 yrs) joined us. In the lap of nature, this was how we spent those 60+ minutes of our collective childhood:
1. Walked barefoot on the grass, pebbles, soil and water puddles
2. Watched the droplets create short ripples in the water on the glass roofs
3. Knelt to the ground, with an ear next to a puddle, to hear the 'plop' sound and its bubble formation
4. Stood under the palm trees (with fan-shaped wide leaves) to hear the distinct rain drops
5. Enjoyed the rain-drain from the glass roof
6. Observed rain-drops hanging precariously on tender buds and flowers
7. Held an open-umbrella on a palm raised high above the head, tossed it up and caught back
9. Knocked at the door of one of our close friends and surprised them with a Good Morning
10. Received a paper drifting through the air reading - 'Happy Father's Day'
Back to the Future – Returns
An hour later, we were wrapping up our unplanned, timeless and travel-free time-travel. Ready to take the next flight, the elevator, BACK TO FUTURE!!
There is much more to Monsoon than a hot cup of tea/coffee and snacks. Only if you could let your heart express itself by permitting it to relive the memories!!