Riding a car when nature's wrath is taking its toll can be ominous - one may fall into debilitating injuries or lose one's life even. But it is an amazing scene to behold when a tornado hits a town. One can fully realise how powerless one is to nature's fury. One can do nothing, nothing at all.
Our car was on an interstate highway in Albertville, Minnesota when nature hid us under a grey lid. It was a shade I never beheld before. One could sense the looming tornado's rage from it. A straight white line ran across the sky, it seemed the heavens were waiting to crack open on us. We took the next available exit and parked the car in the compounds of a convenience store that also offered self-service gasoline. It felt safe there, although the sky by then had put on a deeper hue of grey. The sunny afternoon transformed into a menacing moonless night.
The downpour began in less than a minute. Stuck inside a car, I looked outside the window. The torrential rain made my surroundings obscure and I could only see rain water hitting the vehicle's windshield and windows. Even the street ahead was not visible to my eyes; it appeared as though Mother Nature was on a mission to wash away the world. The release of water from the heavens above appeared unstoppable.
We sat inside the car quietly. We switched on the radio and a weather forecaster said aloud, “Wind is blowing in a straight line at 70 miles per hour.” Fear gripped us yet we tried to converse as if this tornado would pass without hurting us. After 45 long minutes, the tornado was finally done with its exhibition of rage in Albertville. Quickly, it began to head east to display a new round of its furious dance. But I was relieved that it left us.
Looking outside, I beheld the most beautiful sight - a pair of rainbows graced the heaven above. I remember reading somewhere, “Rainbows apologise for angry skies.” At that very point in time, that saying seemed so true, so apt. The grey was gone, what replaced it was a soft yellow light that wrapped the whole city in an embrace. An elderly woman came outside the convenience store with a young girl. The lady pointed her finger to the sky, where the two bows of colours were still glowing in pride. It is not often that a pair of rainbows adorns the evening sky.
The car sped towards home and I stared in awe at the endless skies above. Clouds, resembling shreds of snow-white cotton, hung from the blue heavens above. The setting sun radiated a strong orange light. Never before had I noticed a post-tornado sun, never did I know that a disappearing sun emits such powerful beams. It looked as if the horizon held a colossal torch toward the sky. Its shafts of light pierced white clouds and illuminated the western skyline.
Light, fluffy clouds came down closer to the earth. At first, I mistook them for smoke. The clouds were floating in rapid speed. They were in a rush, for they knew they had little time before turning into a drizzle and soaking everything and everyone below them.
The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
By Wara Karim
Under a different sky
Colour me sky
She had a habit of turning to the sky to help her decide what colour her body should be draped in every day. She played a game with herself, she would open her closet and lay out certain colours every night, guessing the sky would approve of her selection in the morning. Some days she was spot on, other days the grey of the rain nodded his head into a big no to the magenta blouse or the burning sun said negative to the black sari.
The sky reflected off her body dancing in between her exposed skin and clothes. The days she wore a sari, say a yellow taant to match a clear sky's new love affair with the spring, the sun blessed her. The back of her neck would be warm with a mild affectionate touch, she felt more alive. She felt more love in those days.
But then there were days when she rebelled. Like last week when all she missed was the autumn of far-away. An autumn she lived through many times, an autumn that is brightly orange right now, burning like fire, calling her to join every second. The sky in that far-away-October is quite different from the one here. The orange, brown and yellow leaves raise their arms up to reach that sky, the early autumn pea coats show off the season's melody, winter dances a soft dance around everyone's body, cool breezes hug faces, everyone looks up to the melancholy sky and sighs. She missed it all.
She missed it so much that she wanted to be bring orange, and dark brown and deep golden in the middle of the blue and white of Bengal's autumn sky, sharat, an in between season that is not a prelude to winter but a deeper fall. Sharat doesn't approve of orange or brown, it only demands light fluffy blue and white. It approves maybe a slight pink or turquoise. Orange is too harsh for him. Not a good match to his gentle touch.
But she didn't want to listen, she wanted orange and orange only. Her dark orange mocked the sky. As she stepped out of the house the sky followed her. She hopped onto a rickhshaw and kept straight. Her orange sari had motifs of golden and brown leaves. It told a story of the present time and the past. It was a cry for homesickness and a celebration of memories. The sharat sky didn't like this at all.
That afternoon it rained heavily. The sharat sky had turned into a sky of barsha, crying his eyes out. His was feeling a kind of loss that he didn't expect to feel. So he cried more ruining everyone's day. But then she appeared on the rooftop in her orange brown sari, sporting an American autumn. She raised her arms standing like the autumn trees that are standing in that same pose oceans and miles away. The sky poured rain on her and held her extended arms. Then he pulled her closer until she was white and blue. Two autumns blended into one as a stubborn woman stood still embracing the forgiving sky.