BENGALURU : Perhaps the first poem I ever learnt in life was ‘Rain rain, go away!’. The poem asked children to demand in unison that the rains go away because little Johnny wanted to play. A few years later, I’d wonder if Spain was an enemy country. Why not just ask the unwanted rains to go to Pakistan instead?
I have never been a fan of the rainy season. In spite of all the hype and hyperbole around rains in cinema, literature and poetry, I never bought into the logic of rains being beautiful. Certain sections of the society love the rains. Radio jockeys, I assume, get yearly bonuses in rainy seasons. As soon as clouds loom over the city, radio jockeys begin chirping about rains, love and love-songs.Films have done their bit of romanticising of the rains too. Major plot-points in our films are driven around rains.
Rains often spark passion between the hero and heroines, and I often wonder why the rain gods aren’t mentioned in the closing credits as supporting actors. The crackling of thunder often means the leads are going to hug each other, and a baby would arrive by the end of the song. Poetry hypes up the rains too. All the talk of the smell of first rains on mud, the anthropomorphism of rains, clouds and moon to fit a certain mood.
Poets spend their entire lives looking for different ways to describe ‘petrichor’ – the smell of rain on mud. In Indian mythology, Indra – the God of Rains – is shown to be a moody god. While not as revered as other gods in the Hindu pantheon, Indra features in a number of action-packed stories seeking the help of other gods to save his throne. Perhaps the modern equivalent of Indra is the Indian Meteorological Department. They are only spoken about when there are heavy rains or floods, and never mentioned in ordinary circumstances.
The last few days have proven that all it takes is one heavy spate of rains to take us a few decades back. The roads look like the sets of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and vehicles switch from cruise-mode to float-mode. If you are a pedestrian, you might as well stay indoors. The present levels of protection against rains – raincoats and umbrellas – are no good against heavy rains.
While raincoats might look insulated and snug from the outside, all it takes is one drop of water to enter hidden crevices in your body. Umbrellas look good in British TV shows, but it takes one rider-on-the-storm to zoom past you in a car, and you’re given an unwanted abhishekam! The rains have usually been gloomy and depressing for me.
Which is when it struck me, that only rich people romanticise the rains as beautiful and life-changing. For ordinary folks going about their lives, the rains are a nuisance. But since the movers and shakers of society do not have to move or shake during the rains, they can only hear the pitter-patter of raindrops and smell the petrichor. But for ordinary people like me, the onset of rains means having to cancel all my appointments, stay cooped up at home, and wait for the rains to end. If I were to go back to my primary school and meet the kids there, I’d teach them a new version of the popular nursery rhyme. Rain, rain go away; I have got bills to pay. Rain, rain go away; go to where the rich people stay.(Author’s views
are his own)