Sunday, 14 June 2015

Rains Bring Rainbows




Marshal's Pick Award
This post has been published by me as a part of Blog-a-Ton 55; the fifty-fifth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. In association with ​Rashmi Kumar, the author of Hooked, Lined and Single and Jyoti Arora, the author of Lemon Girl. . 





Violet 


Viola pulled a deep breath as she accelerated her scooter through the drizzle on the wide road. Oh! How she loved the intoxicating smell of the parched earth soaking up the first shower of rain. The falling drops pierced her bare arms like little needles, the cool wind ran its wet fingers on her face and she felt invigorated. In no time she reached the Academy Crossing, where uniformed armymen had stopped the traffic to let the cadets pass through. The road ran right through the Academy and divided it into two campuses. The traffic halted multiple times during a day to let the cadets and officers cross the road and visit the other campus. Viola brought her vehicle to a halt and waited impatiently, as jealousy crept up like a fire in her belly. 'Fancy people these, they get the road all to themselves!' Driving in the rain was thrilling, waiting in the rain was frustrating. But no frustration for her today. This day was too good to waste. Viola saw the cadets crossing hurriedly on their bicycles and a smile crossed her lips. Cadets looked charming, the weather was beautiful, and she was a romantic at heart.  Her seventeen years urged her to evoke all the love that she had in her and see the world in it's warm glow. 'Next term,' she thought, 'I am going to meet a cadet and get invited to the Academy Ball. Oh! It would be so glamorous and romantic!' Staying in this city and not going to the Academy Ball was an absolute wastage of her college years. She felt like the heroine of a romantic film who was about to fall in love, as she watched the last cadet struggling to keep pace with others in the growing rain.

Indigo

Cadet Neel blinked his eyes vigorously to ward off sharp little raindrops from his eyes. He found it very difficult to keep cycling in rain and was trailing behind his coursemates as they crossed the road and vanished behind the other gate. Eventually, he dismounted his bicycle as he was left alone and as a rule, he could not ride a cycle alone. In order to ride their cycles, cadets had to form a squad. Though Neel was getting late for his evening lecture, he felt greatly relieved to dismount his cycle. He had no idea how others managed, but he did not like cycling in the rain. He did not even like cycling. Coming from an affluent family, snazzy cars and bikes were his playthings. But here in Academy, he had to follow the rules. He dragged his bicycle along as he tried his best to keep his satchel strap on his shoulder while running in the drizzle which was swiftly changing into a shower. Neel hated every single moment of this run, with water now running down his spine through his collar and dripping through his socks and soaking his canvas shoes.

Neel had given up a life of luxury which was custom-tailored and delivered at his doorstep as a birth right to endure this difficult training because he wanted to unfold the many layers of life and take a peek beneath the surface where he expected to find something much more valuable than money and luxury, to measure his self worth and weigh his own mental strength. This passion more than made up for his lack of stamina and street smartness. He took all the difficulties in his stride, but as his training was getting closer to the end, the thought of just reaching out and grabbing that glorious moment was making him restless. 'Few more months', he wiped his eyes with his right hand and muttered to himself, 'Just few months!', as he saw an instructor's car coming from the opposite side. In a few months, he expected to graduate from the Academy and say adieu to this pre-owned Hero Jet cycle that had served nobody-knew-how many generations of cadets, and to own a car with his own hard-earned money. As the instructor's car passed by, he straightened himself and shouted a crisp 'Jai Hind, Sir'.


Blue

Major Firoz mouthed an inaudible 'Jai Hind' acknowledging the cadet who was now so thoroughly drenched that droplets flew in a flurry out of his mouth when he spoke. Major Firoz was in a hurry as he sped towards his office to take care of something important. Nowadays, he was on a study leave, striving hard to cram a roomful of books in a few weeks time before his crucial pre-staff entrance exam, and came out only in important situations, like today. Before the call came from office, he was immersed deep in a thick book in his study room, but the studious schoolboy of yester-years had lost his capability to continue studying for long hours without intermittent calls from office and signing of important documents over cups of tea. He faintly remembered that he used to love rains long ago, as if in a past life. When he joined army, the strict regimentation of army changed him overnight from an unworried teenager into a  disciplined soldier. Years went by and he could not as much as notice the seasons changing amid his busy schedule, competitive courses and tough job. Beautiful rainy days like this were at their best a hindrance in his path now, like a flat tire or a fused bulb...bulbs... oh, and he had to rush to the Canteen after office to buy some bulbs, as Harita had asked him in exchange of chai-pakoda. Harita, who was at this exact moment, folding the dozenth paper boat at home.

Green

Harita threw her head back and stretched her arms after finishing folding the last paper boat. She was immensely relieved as rain had cooled off the hot and humid afternoon and a pleasantly cool evening was on its way. Monsoon had made a hearty appearance and after a heavy downpour for almost an hour, the rain was taking a step back to look at the effect, like an artist would look at his artwork, with squinted eyes and tongue thrust out between lips. Harita got up to examine the effect too and peeked outside the window. Green leaves appeared clean and bright, droplets still hanging at their pointed ends, air was cool and little puddles had appeared too, like they always did. She realized she did not have the old urge to run out and splash in the rainwater filled puddles. Instead, she was worried about mosquitoes, moths and fungus growing on everything, groceries, fruits and her expensive silks.  Long ago, monsoon meant long bike rides in the rain with Firoz, going out in the rain to enjoy spicy street food. Years had blown away all the superficial romance like candyfloss and solid life had precipitated like soft and glowing snow on them. Now, monsoon meant saving carpets from muddy footprints, and preventing moths from eating clothes in damp closets of creaky old bungalows, opening a dozen boxes and sunning their contents. Rain had not changed a bit, life had changed immensely, and...oh, ouch! She came out of her thoughts and saw the windowsill was wet with seepage and gave her a mild electric shock when she absently placed her hand on it. She rolled her eyes. Such incidents were minor issues in these parts of the world and no house was completely free of seepage, chipping paint or leaky taps. These were old houses, well lived in, and came with their own history. And their own furniture.

She craned her neck to see the time. The maid was terribly late, probably due to rain. Harita changed into a funky pair of squeaky rubber flip-flops and came out to go to her friend's home, on her way out asking Pitambar Bhaiya to stay at home and supervise the maid's work when she arrived.


Yellow


Pitambar was sitting on the veranda on a lawn chair, waiting for the maid to arrive. He was bent over his phone, checking for any new messages, rather staring at the screen for new messages to appear. He was worried, though his worry had nothing to do with his father's old age, his sister's doomed marriage and his brother's high school results. He was worried because it had rained today. He was a native of the hills and it had rained heavily there, so heavily that there were floods and all contact from the outside world was lost, roads were closed and phone networks were down. He was married four years ago and had never had an opportunity to stay with his 'family' in the married accommodation. Now, he had come to a family station, bless his 'Saab', where he could bring his 'family' and be a proud and dignified family member, he had got a flat allotted too by Saab's recommendation,  and was due to leave next day to bring his wife. But the rain seemed to rob him of this great opportunity and had shattered his dreams. All his preparations and plans were washed away. The evening was getting darker than usual due to clouds, and his heart was sinking into great depths of helpless longing. Tired  of staring on the screen and tired of waiting for Kesar, the maid, he got up from the chair and stood on the steps of the veranda purposelessly.


Orange

Kesar Bai increased her pace as she saw the evening fading away fast. She was late and was scared of the fact that it will be dark before her return. It had been two months since she had started working at the new 'Memsahib's' house. Memsahib was all right and did not constantly monitor her, as long as her work was done on time. But the house was situated in a faraway corner of the colony, hidden behind dense shrubs and trees. Walking on the deserted road frightened her even during daytime and she could not imagine walking on it in dark, that too wet and slippery. This area was full of wild animals and even falling leaves sounded like a leopard is approaching. Memsahib always told her to carry a stick which she sometimes did. After rain, the shrubs had come alive and ringing with sounds of chirping insects. There might be snakes also, what if she gets bitten by a snake in the darkness? Or attacked by a wild boar? She was almost running now, shaking away all scary thoughts and promising herself to borrow some money from Memsahib and buy an umbrella next day, cursing the monsoon whose sudden arrival had skewed her budget. The roof of her quarters was leaking and she had to buy a big plastic sheet to cover it. Her room always flooded in the lightest of the rains and she will have to do a little brickwork also to make a threshold to prevent rainwater from entering her quarters. 'No season is friendly towards us poor people,' she thought as she panted and puffed. In the distance, she saw Memsahib holding Laal's hand, coming back from her friend's home.

Red

Laal was happily hopping, wearing red sandals, holding Harita's finger, making up stories about the 'twees' and 'fowers' and 'wain' and 'watal', pointing with tiny fingers, adding special effects by making sounds, widening eyes, exaggerating and then looking at her face searching for signs of belief and appreciation. Harita nodded enthusiastically, exclaimed and praised Laal's stories more than they merited, and satisfied, Laal moved on to the next line and the next..

When they reached home, Laal found paper boats lying on the coffee table and screamed with joy. Today's children do not play in rainwater on streets. Harita took him to the bathroom, filled a big tub with water and handed him the boats one-by-one. Laal held the boat like a spoon, stirred with it in the tub and sang:

Low low low yo bot 
genty doh a teem,
Melly melly melly melly
lie a deem..

Harita stood at the bathroom door, watching Laal sinking boats, and smiled at his sweet song. Rains always brought rainbows, one just had to tilt her head and find out.





The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 04. Image Credits: Monsoon by Yann (Wikimedia Commons). Shared with GNU Free Documentation License CC Attribution-Share Alike.