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    Volume 9 Issue 23| June 4, 2010|

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Rains . . . in the medievalism of the night

Syed Badrul Ahsan

AFP photo

It rains through the night. It pours at dawn. In your soul there is primeval loneliness, loneliness brought on by remembrance of moments gone by. It rains. And you remember the muddy earth you walked through in your village, for in that field of rice beside the pond dug by your great-grandfather was rainwater. Into that water fish wallowed in and you caught them in a piece of cloth, in a gamchha your uncle gave you. There was the thrill of the catch. It poured and you shivered as the winds blew through the rain and the palm fronds. But the fishes were what made your day. It would be your way of making your mother happy, your little message to her that you could contribute to the household. And all because of the rains.

Those days of innocence are long gone. The pond remains. The rains keep coming. The winds blow through the palms and across the village. But your mother is gone, asleep in her grave beside the one your father entered years before her passing. And the fishes do not come any more in the water-drowned fields of rice. That unquenchable desire to force the earth to give you more rice and more jute and more vegetables, through a liberal application of fertiliser, has taken the magic off nature. You who were once that child cheerfully gathering up the fish in the water have swiftly gone past the half-century point in age. You watch that spot where the fish once came; and an infinity of loneliness seems to batter you in this new season if rains. Beyond that tamarind tree beside the pond, you see the cemetery holding the remains of your parents, of all the good people to whom you were once a cuddly little boy.

Memories are pregnant with pain. The rains break through the stillness of the night. You go back, in time and in sadness, to a long-ago night when she and you asked the surprised rickshaw puller to go round and round the soaking streets and alleys of the city because you were in no desire to part from each other. It was a pretty night, made prettier by Tuntuni's resting her head on your shoulder. The raindrops fell on her face through the force of the gale. In the darkness of the ride, a ride that would never end, you loved her in poetry, in all the purity your soul could muster. There was musk wafting forth from her honey-damasked cheeks. It was paradise you remembered as you drank of her rose lips. The skies threatened to cave in every time lightning cut its fiery path through them. The winds blew Tuntuni's hair across your face. She held on to you, all through those streets which celebrated the beautiful seduction that bound you to each other. She whispered in happy tremulousness. It rained harder.

AFP photo

It is old days that come back in the rains. Remembered poverty comes in the reflection of the rainwater on your windowpane. The shirt torn at the shoulder, the shoes about to give way, the long road to the classes about to begin, the rain making it hard for you to walk to the university are slices of life you ought not to forget. They are the truth, or part of the truth, that underpin your life. It will not do to forget them. They are the realities that constitute other realities. They remind you of divinity, of the meandering ways through which you have travelled to where you happen to be today. The rains teach you values, speak to you of the heritage that has been part of your story. They tell you something else: dreams, like the rains, do not have to peter out through the chaos of quotidian misery. In the sadness which drips from the rains, it is replenishment of earth's energy you experience. In a bigger way, it is a spur to your visions of the future. The rains tell you that beyond the darkening clouds, there are the chinks through which light touches the earth and grazes your soul. In the rains is the light suffusing your consciousness with its innumerable possibilities.

The rains are a perpetual reminder of the way of all flesh. They pour over the land and the huts and through the trees. And they seep into graves, to bathe afresh the bones which once were potent symbols of life. A grave collapses here. A new one is dug there. Yet another shows signs of buds sprouting from within it. You hear the sounds of the rain in the medievalism of the night and you imagine the spot of earth that will someday house the remains of what you once were. There will be another night like this one; and your bones in your grave will signify the nothingness that death will have reduced you to.

Tuntuni's singsong voice cruises through the rains, to you. Do you remember, you ask her, of the times when you danced in the rains on the banks of the Sitalakhya? The river was in passion and you throbbed with electric energy? She laughs. And you want to hold her close, again.



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