The essential romantic in us celebrates and serenades the rain. Blue Eve reminisces the monsoon, days of torrential rains, her little paper boat and more. She walks down the memory lane in this letter to monsoon, recalling Tagore through the songs that her mother sang and the poems that her father recited.
My Dear Paper boat,
Black clouds have sent their love letters, they told me the sky is pregnant again and it will bring down torrents of rain all night and day. But I no longer see you ready in my courtyard, nor in the backyards of neighbouring homes that have fancy swimming pools and manicured gardens. Remember my first tryst with you? In the pond near my grandma’s home where moss and ferns grew and I chased dragonflies across those muddy green grass? My children do not know how it feels to walk bare-foot.
They have been asked never to go without slippers even at home, else they might pick up germs and viruses.
Dear paper boat, what an experience they are missing, isn’t it? You and I know what fun I had splashing on the banks of that pond with loads of water hyacinth floating on them. Muddy feet, dirty dress, messy hands, yet that smile on my face, while I floated you on the simmering pond.
I no more see that smile on kids when it rains. They are so bothered about how to reach school because they have their midterm exams then. And even if the roads are flooded they have to sit for exams, they do not have Rainy Day in school. The boards have fixed the number of days of attendance and hence the schools cannot declare holidays. And what tension we all go through to try and make them reach their schools on time. They should not lose marks. After all they are far more important than those silly boats we made.
Paper boat, you are so easily lost in imagination to a world where electronic gadgets rule. Who has the time to tear pages from a rough copy and fold them into boats? My dad had first taught me how to make one and mom had even made a small replica of a majhi (boatman) with an ice cream stick that I used to collect. These days when I go to office by Princep Ghat I often feel like getting down and watch the boats sailing on the Hooghly. I know they cannot feed my yearning for that piece of paper that would be washed and drowned finally in the deluge on the pond, but that sailor would remind me of the Tagore number my mother often sang ‘Ami maarer sagar pari debo go, Ei bhishom jhorer baaye, Amar bhoy bhanga ei naaye’ (I will cross this sea to heaven through stormy nights in my fearless boat). Yes, since childhood that little piece of paper taught me to be fearless, even in the face of a storm.
Back home, I would often rush to my gardened terrace and it would have a pool of water collected, and I would float my boats there. Despite knowing I had a tendency to catch cold, mom never said no.
She never had the time to watch what I was doing on rainy afternoons after returning from school. She would be cooking that delicious hilsa that my dad used to bring on his way back home from High Court. I loved that hilsa too, with its oil dipped in warm rice. I used to help my brother with the bones.
He loved the fish like I did but both of us were afraid of the numerous bones that the wonderful fish would present us with. And it was indeed a challenge manoeuvering.
More challenging would be the frequent power outages that would often accompany the rains and storms. We didn’t have inverters and generators then, we never cried like our kids do even if the power goes off for half an hour. They need to watch that favourite game on television. My dear paper boat, I loved that darkness too, and the ghost stories my maids would cook up and the shadows of the candle flame that played on the walls. And the rain pouring in sheets on the tin roof of the garden wall. My dad reciting, “Asho nai tumi naba falguney, Chhinu jobe tobo bhoroshay, Esho esho bhora barashay” (You never came on a spring morning when I waited for you…. come tonight with the pouring rains).
And when the deafening thunder claps would beat down, at times my younger brother would clutch my hands for assurance. But kids of today are smart, we were not. Only the other day my son was explaining why lightning is seen before a thunder, as a thunderstorm raged outside. He was more interested in explaining the scientific nuances, while I was running around capturing a video of the falling raindrops on my plants.
Yes, paper boat you are lost, just like my memories are, just like my younger brother is, just like those songs my mom sang, or even those delicious hilsa that my father brought. But you still peep out at times in my imagination, when I close my eyes on a rainy morning alone in my garden and when all others are sleeping, I still sneak past them, drown my feet in the puddle formed and smell the fresh fragrance of the kadam and madhabilata. I still know nothing is lost. Not even you.
Your Monsoon Buddy