Rain of varying velocity has been pouring down upon the city since the past few days. A fine Scotch mist turns into a steady drizzle, then reverts to its Scottish origins before pelting cats and dogs upon the hapless populace. It’s the monsoon, so I can’t complain. Today I was very nearly drenched to the bone while waiting to catch a cab. I rather enjoyed it, I must admit! It reminded me of the carefree days of childhood, when one never concerned oneself with the list of ailments that could follow a good drenching.
When we were children, the smell of damp earth before a smart shower would draw us inexorably to the terrace where we would cavort gleefully, all eyes fixed skywards, to spot the first visible droplets of rain. That smell still stirs in me an atavistic hunger, an ache, an indefinable je ne sais quoi. If Dior, or any perfumier, could find a way to bottle that raw, earthy fragrance, he would have a winner on his hands.
The downside of a good monsoon, though, is the flooding that invariably accompanies any brisk shower in the city. It’s not so much the rainwater but what flows along with it that makes the bile rise. As a race, sadly, we are not known for our civic sense, most of our roads doubling up as spittoons and lavatories. Such droppings and debris may lap against your luckless ankles in the nether region, but the discomfort travels upwards at breakneck speed, manifesting itself as nausea in the jugular region of the torso.
To my memory, the monsoons were both an olfactory and visual treat viewed from the upstairs balcony of our bungalow in the Dooars. The heady waft of scented soil and a vista of verdant earth, several shades of green, curtained by the mottled canopies of trees bearing newly burst leaf-buds soaking in the liquid haze pouring forth from the firmament as far as the eye could see.
And another picture, a dearer one, of my little girl all kitted out in a pink raincoat, umbrella and gumboots, dancing and swirling waif-like with three gorgeous beasties, our now sainted Labradors, on the vast expanse of lawn under a swollen sky disgorging its molten angst.
That was heaven on earth for me!