Rain has the same beauty everywhere.
Saumya and I looked out of the restaurant window. Rain was pouring. We could see one young mother half-running, pushing her pram. Through transparent rain cover, her baby giggled with delight. An elderly man walked past with an umbrella which was for sure a recent purchase, because a price tag was still holding on to it. The tag shivered – either with excitement whether to accept rain’s invitation, or with fear of an oblivious unceremonious end in muddy pavement.
Three teenagers walked past laughing and teasing their fourth friend, completely ignoring the rain. As if angry, rain turned heavier.
“It rains everyday”, Saumya said in half-matter of fact and half-complaint tone. But today, she does not mind the rain much; in fact she wanted to go out in rain. Reason for this desire is lying below our table – a pink umbrella.
“But I have my Peppa Pig ‘mbrella!” Saumya continued, “I will not get wet at all”.
While Saumya was busy eating her Macaroni pasta, I thought of the rains we had at my home town in Kerala. It was not just rain, but festival of rain – the monsoon! My primary school year memories insist that monsoon arrived first week of each school year. In younger classes, Amma, or my elder cousins, used to take me to school. Amma worked at the telephone exchange at other end of town, but ensured that I was in school before time and used to rush back to her office, mostly walking.
At evenings, Amma will be at front gates before the school bell; sometimes, a bit late. Wearing raincoat, I used to wait near the deserted main gate. No kids running around expect rain drenching flowers and garden bushes. When Amma arrives, I will run to her; both of us then walked back home, with rain marching along.
Those days, we stayed in a rented house, near to Corporation Football Stadium. Monsoon visited us every year either with wild beauty or brutal force. When it rains heavily for three to four days, the linked row-houses will turn in to a small island. Road in-front will get converted in to a small canal. There was an open drain on left side of the road. It was impossible to make out where the drain starts and road ends. Rainwater paraded through the drain, carrying small bushes and tree branches.
Mini, my sister, and I made paper boats and floated them; and rain took all the paper boats away from us, to faraway places crossing seven seas. Mini is seven seas across in US on a business trip. At India she stays in Bangalore –groovy, trendy, fashionable cosmopolitan, but I always felt something is missing in Bangalore’s monsoon; maybe the greenery of trees and simplicity of nature, which a busy city could never boast of.
During early work life in Bombay too, rain was a constant companion. [Though the official name is Mumbai, to me the city is/was always Bombay. Mumbai reminded of saffron flags and Shiv-sainik’s hatred. Bombay, on other hand, is the ever-lively cosmopolitan city of fun-loving, hard-working, secular, zealous people who came to this wonderful city from all part of the country. ….More on Bombay some other time!]
Back to rain…“Don’t believe rains and girls of Bombay” was one of the first advice given to me by Bombay friends. Rain was an unwanted companion on commute to work. In earlier days, I used to take locals, but later on my proud Yamaha. Either way, I cursed rain on those journeys. Local train full of wet/sweat covered people was claustrophobic. Equally bad were the motorbike rides; trucks and buses soaked pedestrians and bikers in (d)rain water. Though belonged to same monsoon gang, weekend rains were calmer and kinder. We friends enjoyed rain-drenched bike-rides along Juhu, Worli and Chaupati.
“Let’s go find Mummy”, Saumya’s voice brought me back to Bracknell’s rain and its music. We came out of the restaurant, looking for her mother busy shopping somewhere nearby. Rain drizzled on us; somehow I was sure this same rain is busy pouring heavily now in Kozhikode and Bombay as well.