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     Volume 4 Issue 63 | September 16, 2005|

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Straight Talk


“Can you see anything? Because I can barely see in front of me" I exclaimed to my son as I was driving home from school. His look was that of someone not very impressed and slightly alarmed by my statement. However, in my defence it was not my eyesight which was the cause of this vote of no confidence, but the torrential rain outside the car that had me in this state of anxiety. Despite my wind screen wipers working overtime, I really could not see very far ahead of me. One minute the sky looked perfectly calm and the next minute the heavens had opened up and the visibility while driving had become close to zero. I could see people taken unawares by the downpour running looking for shelter while others just accepted that there was no refuge from the rain pelting down and were strolling on the road as if it were a sunny afternoon. Even the ten seconds it took us to get from the car to the front door of our house left both of us rather wet and bedraggled.

However, once inside the warmth of the house with a towel wrapped around my head, I sat and watched the rain beating mercilessly on the windowpane. It was almost mesmerising. I was trying to recall the last time I had been caught in a downpour like this without warning and I remembered my trip to Italy where we had been absolutely soaked to the skin. The umbrellas we had were no match for the rain bucketing down on us and gradually turning the streets into little rivulets. But what I recall quite vividly is the feeling of exhilaration and delight at the sensation of the rain beating down on my face. It was utterly liberating to throw caution to the wind and run down the streets of Rome regardless of the water streaming down our faces or the puddles we were splashing across. In fact the only sounds apart from the rain that night were our peals of laughter.

As I gazed outside, it reminded me of our monsoons back home. The grey skies, the wind and the unrelenting rain seemed so familiar. Soon I was taking a journey back in time in my mind and was transported back to my childhood in Dhaka. I still have many fond memories of getting the much sought after permission from our parents to venture out into the rain and playing around in the garden with my cousins while we got drenched. I also remember on countless occasions curling up in a chair in our veranda with a book trying to read while being distracted by the sky changing colour and the trees bending and swaying to the silent tune of the rain. Somewhere behind the clouds you could imagine the sun trying to push its way past the barrier and shed its golden light on the rain soaked earth. Have you ever noticed how everything looks so refreshed and reinvigorated after a rainfall? It is nature's way of cleansing the earth. The drops of water on the leaves of the trees look like little jewels sparkling in the light.

What is it about the rain that turns people into poets and lovers? In the sub-continent we are constantly depicting rain in our poems and our songs. It seems to be the season for lovers, and the season for reflection and contemplation. Then of course how can we forget the almost obligatory song in Hindi films with the heroine draped in a sari, preferably white, singing and undulating seductively in the rain. Rain and romance become synonymous. If one were to ask people what came to mind when they thought about the monsoons or a rainy day, we would get a multitude of answers. For some it is simply walking hand in hand with a loved one sharing an umbrella, for others it may be to sit indoors and let nature take its course outside. For some it is to sit with a group of friends laughing and chatting with steaming cups of tea and a plate of piping hot samosas or daalpuri. However, living in London the concept of rain is far less romantic than it is back home. It usually means perpetually dull grey skies, always having to have an umbrella at hand and waiting desperately for the weather to clear up. Rain is not always just a happy phenomenon --- the emotions it evokes can also be sad, thoughtful or melancholy. A poem that reminds me of these sentiments is one by Edward Thomas called "Rain".

"Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain…." (Edward Thomas)

I was brought back from my reverie by a clap of thunder; it looked like the rain was easing up a bit.

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