For the better part of a couple of weeks well into what should have been peak monsoon time in Mumbai, the sky was so clear of clouds that if we squinted and looked hard we could probably spot some of the satellites in orbit. The roads were bone dry and children despaired of ever having the joy of a RainyDayHoliday again in this year, a day to basically bunk school so they could go down to the park and legitimately get wet to the bones and send us parents into a frap about chills and colds and drink that Adusol now on the pain of no television for the next week.
The weeks passed with the city that mandatorily had its bi-annual deluge by now looking like the monsoon had done its bit at the start of the session and had now retired hurt to the pavilion. On the flip, the rest of the country was reporting flooded roads, cancelled flights, collapsed walls, and all the associated mayhem that we claimed unthinkingly as ours every year this time. It was enough to make one cry enough to flood the roads.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not romanticising the rain. Far from it. It is wet, and gloomy and damp and you cannot step out for fear of reaching your destination looking like a rodent who was ignominiously drowned in sewage water, your living room gets converted into a dhobi ghat because, damn, them clothes stay damp for days on end and the only solution to get them dry seems to be sitting grimly with the hairdryer set to high in one hand and the offending garment in the other. But I was born on a day when the roads were so flooded, I’m told my mother had to make it through waist deep water to the hospital when the contractions began. I have this primitive visceral affinity for water. I also cannot swim, but that is another blog post for another day.
But this prolonged special of dryness was worrisome. I looked at the sky every morning in anticipation to see not a single errant cloud marking its progress across. I looked at the nice bright green raincoat I’d purchased in anticipation of days needing full protection from the elements, when a hapless umbrella would stand no chance against the forces of wind and rain combined, and despaired of ever getting an opportunity to use it. The child moped at the window about how none of them had caught colds this year and could legitimately be allowed to bunk school because they were infectious, never mind that they scampered down to the park to get wet some more and even more infectious when a parental head was turned.
Then, after a long period of rain-lessness, when I feared we would go into drought, famine, hellfire and worse, one fine evening, a graceful rumbling in the sky and a swift pall of grey heralded the arrival of some clouds. Within the hour, the rain was pelting down in buckets. And then it cleared away as suddenly as it arrived. The petrichor fought valiantly with the stink of newly dampened mounds of garbage, and garbage won by a knock out. There was a brief reprieve and the rapscallions in the compound, who had been caught unaware by the sudden deluge returned to their respective homes, all wet to the bone and happy at it. It rained through the night. It was still raining when I woke the next morning, wondering whether the alarm had fast forwarded itself so dark it was outside, the rain a wall that blocked all visibility.
“Donwantugotoskul,” the offspring murmured as I tried to wake him up, “Isarainydayholiday.”
As I hustled him into the bathroom, I wish tough love could be tender and I could let him take the day off, and take the day off myself, stay at home and enjoy the rain the way it was meant to be enjoyed –with more calorific pakoras with chai than was deemed healthy and which surely would make their determined way to my saddle bags and take up permanent residence there.
The day was rained out. The roads got flooded. Compound walls collapsed. Traffic got jammed. Flights got delayed. Flights were missed. All was well with the city again.