Look at what the rains dragged in!

Rains Loading

Meena stood on her balcony, laughing by herself. She was watching the children in the neighbouring housing complex running around in the rain, shrieking and whooping in sheer joy. It was the season’s first proper shower and as soon as she had smelt the wet earth (the noise of the falling rain reaching her later), she had rushed to her gas stove to make a cup of tea. So, with her steaming cup, she was in the balcony to watch the rain come pouring down. Oh, if only she could join those little ones in their impromptu rain dance! As she settled herself in a chair, she felt ridiculously happy. Who would have thought that the first shower, albeit after a scorching three months, could still get her so thrilled, even in middle age?

She let her mind wander. Little snippets of memories marched through her mind and, unlike other times, she let them draw her in….

There she was, driving her bicycle around in the pouring rain, with her brother, their school having given them a ‘rainy day’ holiday. Their parents had been at work and, obviously, had no idea that they were out and about. That had made it all the more fun! They had gone knocking at all their friends’ houses, begging their mothers to let them out, but to no avail. Not that their refusal had deterred them. They had raced each other along waterlogged streets that were strictly out of bounds for them. By the time the cook had arrived, the naughty siblings were back home, hair dried and wearing dry clothes, the wet clothes tucked at the bottom of the washing pile, nonchalantly reading books. The day after, a neighbour had, of course, tattled to their mother. They had been given a jolly good ticking off (Meena had just been recovering from a bad cold) but that hardly took away the sheen from the wonderful experience.

Then she saw her teenage self, sitting on the verandah of her grandparents’ Santiniketan house, watching the rain advance towards them, across the green fields and finally wetting her feet, as she sat dangling her legs over the side. Her kind, understanding grandparents had not once asked her to stop getting wet. On the contrary, her grandma had got her a plate full of steaming hot pakodas, as she had simply sat there getting wetter and wetter. Finally, when her teeth had started chattering from cold, she had rushed to the bathroom to change and found a bucket of warm water waiting for her. Oh, it had been sheer bliss!

As a young adult, she remembered the time she had driven her ‘Scooty’ in a heavy downpour, not bothering to take out her raincoat from the storage compartment. While all other vehicles and pedestrians had stopped and taken shelter, she had raced along with gay abandon, singing loudly to her heart’s content as she got completely drenched. The expressions of both disbelief and indulgence, from the people watching her, swam right back into her mind.

Suddenly, Meena started feeling restless. It seemed as if her radiant happiness was about to be overshadowed by something sinister and she was helpless to stop it. Yes, it was on a rainy evening that she was attacked by an unknown man on an empty street. She was returning from college, after her regulation 24 rounds of duplicate bridge in the canteen with seven of her classmates. As usual, they had been so engrossed in their game that they had hardly realised that there had been a thunderstorm raging outside, till the canteen owner had practically thrown them out after warnings were falling on deaf ears. Meena had been confident of getting a rickshaw from the bus stop to her home. But the moment she had stepped off the bus, she had found all the familiar roads deserted. Even the shopkeepers of that area had shut shop for the day and disappeared, keen on reaching home before the streets got waterlogged. Not wanting to wait alone in the shelter of closed shop fronts in pitch dark, she had valiantly started walking towards her home, holding onto her umbrella with all her might. There had been a strong breeze blowing and suddenly her umbrella had got turned inside out. As she had stood to set it right, a man had come out of nowhere and grabbed her from behind. She had screamed and screamed and by the time her voice had become hoarse, the attacker had, thankfully, taken to his heels. She had run the remaining, considerable distance to her home. She knew she was really lucky that nothing worse had happened because the spot of her attack had a park on one side and sprawling school grounds on the other, so no one would have heard her cries for help.

“But why am I thinking of something that happened nearly 30 years ago? Why am I letting it spoil my good mood?!” Meena scolded herself. She got up and went to the kitchen to prep for making pakodas. It was nearly time for her sons to return from college, and they would love the surprise of their mother preparing deep fried food, setting aside her usual curtailments on oil!




Nandini Bhattacharjee, 47, has lived in Kolkata, Durgapur, Hospet and now resides in Pune. She worked for 18 years in a steel plant mainly in environment management. Nandini has been a trainer for management training programmes for 21 years. She took an early retirement from 'paid' work and spends some time volunteering when she's not mentally wrestling with her teenage sons.

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