Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Paragraph & Shutter are in love with the monsoons...

She was devoid of tears. He avoided tears.

But tears come, even in extreme happiness. Still, she was devoid of tears. She was unique; God made her unique. No matter what the situation, no matter the emotion, there would be one expression: the smile.

And she smiled.

But tears do come, even in extreme happiness. Still he avoided them. He was not unique; God had made him so. And at this moment, this moment of extreme emotions, all he could do was cover his searing eyes. He wanted to cry but he couldn’t.

She understood. He understood.

They were standing on the terrace of a 17 storey building, meeting after 17 long years. The wait had been long. Too long. They held each other tight, lips locked & eyes closed, savouring the moment of their togetherness. They forgot the world around them and let their hearts take centre stage.

Her lips were soft, as soft as before. Her breasts warm, as warm as before.

Both were sitting on the ledge of the terrace, bathed in the golden light of the setting sun. The world seemed far away and they were one with the sky. Yes, they were so high.

Then the black clouds came; slowly, very slowly, covering the crimson sky. The birds flew back to their nests; lightning and thunder filled the black sky. The rain came pelting down like a million hungry locusts.

“Monsoon’s here,” said he, “I know you love the rain. But come, let’s go inside.”

She kissed him again. “Yes, let us go inside”, she said.

They stood up. He slipped. Just a tiny slip.

Silence, in spite of the hard-hitting rain. Thundering silence, as far away she heard a thud far below.

She was locked in that moment & knew only that this was the end. She felt like dying.
And then she felt the pain, the hopelessness of all those years of waiting. All she wanted was to cry.

But what came was just a smile.

The forgotten village of Damuda has not seen rain for a thousand years. Folklore had it that a failure to appease the Rain God resulted in his wrath. After a thousand years of bright cloudless skies the people of Damuda had forgotten that once it had rained here too.

Everything else in Damuda is normal; the sun rises in the east, mothers feed their babies, men have wives and birds chirp during the winters.

The villagers of Damuda are skilful potters. On Saturdays, the men take their pots and travel great distances to other villages to barter their goods. When they come back, they have all their basic necessities and of course WATER.

Thirteen years back, Damu was born in one such family. His father Damodar and mother Damini were the poorest in Damuda. Damodar, too, was a potter. Since he was born with a disabled left hand his disability proved to be disastrous for his family.

Nonetheless, Damu always accompanied his father and even entered into barter and loved the excitement of it. It gave him a chance to be with different people, “more civilised” as his father would say. Truly, they knew so much! From them, Damu would listen to stories of kings and their kingdoms, elephants and snakes and of course stories of RAIN

The first time Damu heard about rain, he couldn’t quite believe it. The very idea of water falling from the sky was so strange and alien to him that he was perplexed completely by the idea. No, Damu couldn’t really imagine rain.

The one thing Damu was very passionate about was music. Old Hari, the musician from the village they went to barter in, would tell him stories about great musicians and the power they had to change the world. From him, he learnt about Tansen, the greatest musician of all times and how he could kindle a flame through the strength & magic of his ragas. Damu would ask Old Hari a million times whether he could do the same, to which he replied, “They were the greats; they were Gods. I am not a God!” Still, whenever Old Hari sang at Damu’s insistence, Damu would look around to see whether anything was on fire or not. Sadly, he was disappointed every time.

One day, Damu requested Old Hari to teach him music. So started a new chapter in Damu’s life. Every Saturday he took lessons from Old Hari and for the rest of the week practiced to perfect his skills. His tenacity and dedication amazed everybody in the village but to their dismay, even after months of training, Damu couldn’t sing a single raga properly.

Summer came; and the entire village of Damuda was engulfed in a massive heat wave. Trees dried up and the birds flew away. Animals died of thirst. Heat, so unbearable, that it made the people lose their patience. Peace & harmony fled. There were fights; husbands beat up their wives, and children cried from day till night. Water was nowhere to be found. Everyone fought for even a drop.

Damu’s father died on a Wednesday and his mother hanged herself from the yellow tree. Not a single person came to help cremate their bodies. Damu was now alone.

The next morning, Damu went to the now dry lake near Kaju’s hut. The door was shut as everybody was afraid to come out in the heat. Damu could hardly see. The sun was so mercilessly bright. He knew he would die if he stayed out any longer. He had not had a drink of water that day and no one would give him any. Thirst was killing him but he felt that there was no reason for him to live as his loved ones were dead. Perhaps Old Hari would have cared for him but there was no way he could go to the other village in this heat, this killing heat.

Hopeless & despairing, Damu closed his eyes to welcome death. Suddenly he felt no thirst, felt no heat. He understood that it was time to die.

Gathering together all his strength he looked at the sky, and passionately started to sing raga Megh.

Time flew past and Damu, like Tansen, kept on singing for hours, until at last his eyes closed for the last time.

Whether Mia Tansen really lit flames through his ragas will always remain a mystery. But Damu’s voice took wing to soar through the skies & reach the rain God. With his dying breath Damu had won the grace of the Rain God.

It rained.

Bling! Blang! Blong!

“Uuh! Let me sleep.”

Bling! Blang! Blong!

“Brother! I said, let me sleep. One more time and I will kill you.”

Bling! Blaaa…..!!!!!

“ENOUGH!!!! Now it’s your time buddy.”

I took my pillow and thrashed my brother twice. He took his position; his pillow was stronger than mine. The moment he came charging towards me, I grabbed him and threw him flat on the bed, and kept on pillow-hitting him until it burst into a thousand cotton bales.

My brother…my little brother.

In came our mother and seeing the utter mess, slapped me. Well, well, well….I was the elder one and my brother just a tiny creature. Hence, such a treatment.

This was fifteen years back when I was in high school. Every morning my brother would wake me up this way and we would pillow-fight until mom would come in and stop the gladiators.
Sunday…a day to relax…..had plans of staying in bed till afternoon but woke up at 4.40 in the morning. Thanks to the old pillow-fighting dream.

I am a doctor who is a good doctor. A doctor who has a lot of patients. And I don’t subscribe any apple a day to my patients. So they can’t keep me away!

But today is a Sunday and I really wanted to sleep a lot. But couldn’t.

It’s been long since I have seen my city wake up. So I get into my shoes and start walking towards the river. I am sure that just like my childhood days, the sunrise from behind the factory chimneys will enthrall me even today.

A gust of fresh air enters my nostrils and along with it comes the smell of burnt charcoal from the riverside tea stall. It refreshed me then and there and activated the nostalgic part of my brain. The distant chimney smoke, the orange sky behind them, the hissing of the morning river and the incessant humming of a few devotees caressed my urban mind and gave it a human touch. I sat down on the riverbank-stairs.

After completing school, I left home and went to Connecticut to study medicine. I became a doctor and started practicing in New York. And all this while I was so, so busy. I hate myself for that.

One day, the news arrived.

I took the next flight back to India but never saw my brother again.

My brother…my little brother.

I went inside our room. Everything was in place. Just my brother’s pillow was lying on the floor. I broke down.

In came mother and seeing me in tears, slapped me. Well, well, well….I was the only one and my brother, just a tiny creature, was gone. Hence, such a treatment.

I never went back to US.

Droplets from the sky and droplets from my eyes mix. Cotton bales everywhere…flying, flying and flying. Now I know who woke me up so early on a Sunday.

The cloudy sky made me happy. I prayed for the rain so that I could miss my office today. I woke up early due to the regular commotion between my mistress and the maid. With a terribly distorted face, my wife came inside the room with the tea and started her regular complaint of sacking the maid the next month…the month that never arrived. Because of this terrible encounter, both forgot about the tea as it turned from red to dark brown. I was able to take only a few sips, more than which was impossible.

Grabbing my great granddad’s antique umbrella and the jute bag, I got out for buying vegetables from the market. Seconds away from the Shyambazar five-point crossing, it started raining heavily. My antique umbrella did not offer any help whatsoever and devoid of rights, I took shelter under a polythene shade of a cigarette stall. For half an hour, I remained under that shade, as the rain paralyzed me completely. My wristwatch showed 8.30 am.

It was pouring down like anything and Shyambazar in no time would turn into Venice and perhaps I would have to sell off my ambassador for a gondola. I started daydreaming about how my beloved Shyambazar with hundreds of advertising hoardings, pan-cigarette shops, and the netaji statue would look like without any roads but only water and gondolas charging Rs.5 to take you to the nearest metro station. Frankly, I was enjoying thoroughly in the rain together with my imagination.

Suddenly there was a jerk to my chain of thoughts. The reason for this was an argument that traveled into my ears and brought me back to the real five-point crossing. As I turned around, I saw an unusually fat lady with a fat-full of belly and cannon-ball eyes screaming at the highest pitch humanly possible. In front of her, a matchstick-ish man completely drenched and who resembled a cocker-spaniel, was painstakingly listening to this lady’s barbaric assault. Reason?

After listening to the lady for some time, the reason became evident. Apparently the lady wanted to have “Aloor Chop & Teley Bhaja” (potato crumbs - primarily a Bengali delicacy) and has been nagging her husband since morning to bring the necessary ingredients. But the husband was busy cleaning the bathroom. So he got late. The rain put an end to the wife’s desire. Hence, the lightning and thunderstorm.

By then a lot of people had gathered round them. Embarrassed and threatened of dire consequences, the matchstick husband all of a sudden rolled up his pant, took the umbrella from his wife and ran towards the bazaar in the pouring rain.

Someone from the hurdle cried out, “Hey! Watch out for the umbrella. It might break.”

It was awkward. Did not have any explanation.

The balcony door, through which Mr. Shankar was looking outside, suddenly closed. There was a huge bang that made the two crows fly away in fear. Irritated, Mr. Shankar got up from his bed and opened the door again.

Unlike a serial killer, the sky had left behind enough evidence of rain in the form of pitch dark clouds. Yes, it was about to rain. The wind was blowing so strong that Mr. Shankar found it difficult to keep the door open.

“Disgusting! What will the crows think about me? That this old man cannot even respect their feelings? What a beautiful love story they were telling me; about how they flew away from their family nest and started living together, and this wind comes and plays spoilsport. Disgusting!”

“Monsoon’s here. I just hope they will be fine.” said Mr. Shankar.

And saying this, Mr. Shankar went outside to the balcony and scoured the sky once.

Shouting at the top of his voice, he said, “Pay me a visit some time! It was nice knowing you.”

Just then, the doorbell rang and the balcony door closed shut with a loud bang.


We are very thankful to one of our admirers The Thinking Guitar for contributing a poem for the monsoon post:

The darkness emerges from the past,
For light, I search everywhere,
This is my path – the last,
I’m gonna’ born elsewhere.

The wind cold moves by,
Reminds me my long lost dream,
This sorrow – I know not why,
This sorrow – an endless stream.

Two lovely birds were us,
Felt around the magic of rain,
That magic’s been lost (and thus),
My life now is flowing in vain.

The monsoon is here again,
Burning my heart to ashes,
I weep to the river in pain,
As the thunder crashes.

The rain of fire pours down,
My umbrella fails to prevent it,
Sure this is a peaceful town,
(But) I want to get rid of it.

1 comment:

  1. U guys hav talent/// make the most of it/// the photo wid the crows/// superb//// kudos to the person who took it///