Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 48, Tuesday July 18, 2006


the rain story

Something was different. As simply as can be said- something was different. And I was aware of it too. Being a security craving person, I had always been quick to detect changes because they undesirably threw me out of my safe and familiar world. So it was one of those times…times when things were different, only I did not know what.

However, I had only to look about myself to spot the first offender. It was the day, and it looked different. Different how Eid looks different. How exclusive of the lights or the over-dressed people, the air and the atmosphere and basically the day itself looks different. So it was one of those days. Which one?

I crept around the house, painfully conscious that at any moment, I would have to prance upon him or her or it-whatever the intruder was. Knock it out cold and throw it right out my life for all its audacity. My life with my handful of people that I am comfortable with, my house that I know every nook and corner of, my routine that refuses to feel fatigued by years and years of sameness. No I would not have it. No changes for me.

I walked around the house feeling nothing less than an FBI agent, searching and investigating. And there it was, another peculiarity lounging confidently in my kitchen-my mother and our domestic ambassador putting away the freshly cooked food for lunch and deciding quickly 'chot kore khichuri boshay deya hobe'. My fears confirmed. Strange things were happening. Why another menu was being set even after the days cooking had been done was no easy guess for me.

'Esho ni pobone
Chhaya bithi tole
Esho koro snaan
Nobo dhara jole
Esho ni pobone…'

I probed on into my father's study and he gaily chirped something about what an appropriate song he was listening to. Although I didn't dare to differ, red alerts screamed inside my head. Appropriate for whom? Or what? Try as they may to confuse me, my sources hadn't run dry. I headed eastward towards my sister's room. I told her we needed to talk and yet she dived deeper into her blankets and announced that it was the perfect day to sleep, only to sleep.

So that was it then. They were all in it. Everyone knew something was happening, what it was that was taking place and yet I had been cornered. Cornered and left out, with no one to clear my head full of vagueness. I sulked my way back to room and felt safe only after drawing the curtains tight and putting on music loud enough to drown the world, the world with its blasphemies. Unusual looking days, sudden changes of menu, choosing specific songs for unspecified purposes and absurd sleeping habits. Change what may, I had coiled back into 'my space', immune from the rest of the world that was spitefully making secret amends to its heart's content.

And yet I should have seen it coming. I should have fed my suspicions fat when I had noticed Mother Nature changing her ways as well. She threw at me flowers that suddenly spring up from nowhere and make you feel distant to the environment. Little boys brandishing armours of beli, my aunt bringing over a bunch of kodom, and a perfectly harmless (or so I thought) little pot plant that now boasted kamini. Who were they, these flowers? Certainly not my universally accepted rose. But more importantly, why now? Something had certainly instigated them to lash out with their nasty little surprises at this specific point in time but sadly once again, I knew not what.

I could have cared less, really, if it wasn't for the interesting amount of restlessness I found sneaking into me. That particular feeling one gets when something is about to happen. Not frightening, because it isn't something dangerous, just an underlying current of anticipation. I worried my eyes shut because there was nothing to do but wait.

I rose sometime later, it could have been an hour or two, or even three and stepped cautiously onto the balcony. Oh but there it was! Not small changes, not only in flowers or menus at least, changes everywhere, in everything. It took over me, as it did the rest of the world. True the day looked different-calm, clean and rested. And why should it not? It had been engulfed by a festival greater than Eid, just not religiously. The couples huddled together, feeling a sudden shower of romanticism on their moods, the children feeling an urgency to step out into the mud and play football, the vegetation that looked so much healthier, the smell of the soil and most importantly, the sense of peace restored. So many changes, and for once I welcomed them. Yes with open arms I did, THE MONSOON.

By Subhi Shama Reehu

monsoon memoirs

I laugh with raindrops,
Drunk with the fun of them…
And hold in my two hands
One hundred and one of them…

I read these four lines somewhere once and my immediate thought was how appropriately they expressed the joy one feels when getting wet in the rain, on any given day, during the monsoon season.

If someone denies the innate yearning to feel the touch of rain drops drum an addictive beat down on one's person, I'd say that he or she were lying through their teeth. No matter the age, this desire will never, ever fade it is a part of our childhood, our culture and in short, is in our blood.

The monsoon season is weaved with memories that repeat themselves every year like an ongoing love affair. The green garb of Mother Nature somehow seems more lush, the sky is always overcast as if the heavens above will open up any minute and a curtain of rain will come down, washing away all the stains and coaxing forth all things pure and cleansed. It's as if the earth is re-born each time. There is the rather tense, caught-in-a-moment, oppressive mood right before it starts to rain and once it stops, a blissful feeling of peace permeates the air along with the unforgettable smell of the damp earth. And of course we get the refreshing cool, cool breeze I even have a friend who opened an email account 'xirxire', a connotation of the phrase jhirjhire batash, because she loves it so much!

Here in the city, we see tokais jumping with unconcealed joy in the rain. We see the romantic picture of a couple huddling under an umbrella. We see families and friends enjoying a hot cup of tea with daal puri or jhaal muri or a lunch of dola-khichuri with bhuna-goshto and aachar. We see little kids playing hari-patil or making paper boats to set afloat down a make-shift rain stream or puddle, dragging their elders into the fun who are only too happy to join in. And can one forget cruising by inside a car and drawing childish nonsense on the fogged up windows? I STILL do that.

Farmers in the rural areas look up to the sky and shed tears of relief and joy in cadence with Mother Nature shedding the first onslaught of monsoon rains…filling rivers, canals and streams to the brim that help water parched lands and yield bumper harvests.

Monsoon memoirs thus entail romance, happiness, hope, good fortune and new beginnings. So it's time to get drenched in all that is monsoon time to get drunk with the fun of them.

By Simin Saifuddin
Photo: Munem Wasif



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