Monsoon Memories

Before the slush, the sludge, the flooded roads, the infernal power cuts, the outbreaks of every communicable disease that mutating viruses can create, and before I start going down on my knees and begging the powers that be to send the sun out again, let me do a barf inducing round up of my best, held close to the heart, covered with gossamer type memories of the monsoon, the good, the bad and the very very ugly.

Running out of school, without bothering to put on the raincoat the mother has carefully and neatly folded into square centimeter size and packed into humunguous bag, and eating hot fresh corn roasted over a tandoor sigri, and basted till black and popped, rubbed over with lime and salt and chilli powder, a concoction which I could swear had some addictive substance added to it, which made one count out one’s petty change through the previous day in anticipation.

The heavens pouring down the day my graduation results were announced. And me, being me, reaching college to find out that I had been pipped as topper by single mark. And then realising, the road outside the college was a flood, I had no transport, and all my friends had already left for their residences, all within walking distance. This, of course, was the prehistoric era, pre mobile phones. Standing drenched to the skin, contemplating my course of action. And there comes my knight in shining armour. Also drenched to the skin, not due to lack of efficiency of umbrella, but rather, because he never carries an umbrella, and hand holds me through waist deep water and to a railway station where we find the trains have shut shop thanks to track flooding. So we sat on the platform bench and drank hot steaming chai from the railway stall, and didnt mind the wet and damp day, and went back to the beach to walk through the rain.

Me, working in the office at VT. Time to leave for home. When I realise the trains have packed up, the roads are flooded and I am in the middle of nowhere. I call the husband panicking. Stay where you are, he orders, I’ll come and get you. And I wait. And wait. And wait. And he comes, walking from Andheri. And manages to get us home, dry and in one piece, through a horrible night that saw more deaths by electrocution than I had ever known until 26th July 2005 happened.

Driving through the city, in our first car. A little white Maruti 800. Suddenly the skies opened up and rains lashed the road. The traffic swelling to anaconda proportions. And we content and happy to just be in the moment. No rush to get home. Soaking in the rain with our windows wide open.

Sitting by the window, watching the monsoon pour down on a verdant green Goan landscape, the sea rippling angrily, the little hacienda we were in alive with new sounds and fragrances from the rainsoaked garden. My husband’s head in my lap. A mug of coffee in my hand. Just a sense of calm and peace and being in the moment. A moment so tender and precious that we havent been able to replicate it since. And ofcourse, we have had no solo holidays after that, thanks to the precious fruit of my womb.

Speaking of which, a year later, sitting by a window, watching the rains pour down, the skies dark with thunder, and feeling a sudden sure sharp kick in my swollen stomach. Yes, the child decided to make his presence felt to much drama and thunder and lightning splitting the dark sky. Appropriate, I think in retrospect.

The rains pouring down, the news filtering in that the trains have stopped running, the roads are flooded, and all I can see from the window is a swell of brown muddy water slowly rising in the building compound. And the child is down with a fever, and I am beyond panic, I am hysterical. The husband is out of town. The driver is on leave. And sure enough it happens, the child goes into convulsions, and I run down, with him jerking in my arms, begging and pleading with taxi wallahs to take us to a hospital. His body goes limp, he had fainted. I didnt know that then, I was howling like a mad woman. I didnt want to think what I was thinking. No one agrees to take us. The roads are all flooded, they say. Save one kind soul. Thank you, Sardarji. Wherever you are, may the lord bless you and keep your children in good health.

Another day. The same year. A day no Mumbaikar will forget ever. 26 July 2005. I am in town, a good distance away from home in the far suburbs, and suddenly, the clouds literally burst on us. I can only see a black curtain of rain through the window while I continue my interview in my best professional manner. The husband starts calling frantically. Come back, soon. The roads are flooded over. We set out. The traffic crawls. Inch by inch. Afternoon turns into evening. Evening turns into night. I am stuck. The water laps at the windows of my Ikon. I was lucky, I didnt realise I could have been locked in and gased dead if the autolock had jammed. I spent the night at a friends place enroute. I barely slept. My child was home, just out of the hospital. I began walking at six am. Two minutes into the walk I realised I couldnt walk in chest high water with stilettoes and chucked them off. And walked barefoot. And like a woman possessed. I walked from Santacruz to Kandivali. I reached at 1.30 pm. Barely seven hours after I’d set off. I’d walked through washed away roads, pulled myself through makeshift rope bridges across flooded in roads, walked past floating corpses of bloated buffalos. The phone lines were down. The husband was going mad with worry. He had literally swum home the previous night. The water levels had crossed the level of our compound wall, and the area had been cordoned off by the police. He just jumped in and swam through. Ex-national level swimmer. The child was safe. The anticonvulsants had to be administered in precise dosage, at precise timing. My feet were bleeding, cut in a million places. I didnt feel the pain, just the unsspeakable, breathless joy of holding my child, safe and in good health.

And now, sitting in my bedroom, in my new home. Watching the breath taking expanse of sky and cloud battling with each. A luxury in this space starved city, where even glimpses of the sky are rationed out. Holding my son in my lap. And pointing out imaginary figures in the clouds. Here a lion, there a whale, there a dinosaur. And seeing a magical kingdom of myth where earlier I had only been able to see prosaic cumulus clouds.

Do I love the monsoon? I do. It is too much of a season of raw fury and unpredicatability not to love. And plus, I have been raised on a diet of Bollywood romance in the rains. How can I not love it? Anyone else love this season, despite it?

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About Kiran Manral

Author of The Face At The Window, ( 2016), Karmic Kids, All Aboard (2015) , Once Upon A Crush (2014) and The Reluctant Detective (2011).
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26 Responses to Monsoon Memories

  1. Mona says:

    great post, lady k.
    sometimes i love the monsoons, sometimes i don’t. mostly, i don’t. what cai say? i don’t like getting wet :/

    Like

  2. Bangaloremom says:

    My God K!! My blood ran cold after reading your experience in 2005. As for me, yes, I love the monsoons. It brings back memories of eating hot pakoras off the stove with ketchup as amma made them and then rushing out to get wet in the rain. As you said, there is something so romantic about the rains isnt there?

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  3. d says:

    I do. Love the monsoon that is .

    Having said that, hair raising post this …

    Like

  4. kbpm says:

    wow! your 2005 story is MUCH worse than mine. I was the one who managed to get home to the child and the husband was the one stuck outside. It was the day I discovered that I could climb up 24 flights of stairs in ten mins flat. But the monsoon is wonderful – it cleans up the trees and grass and makes them so beautiful. Hope we can all stay away from those pesky germs this time though! The children are older, and hopefully more immune…

    Like

  5. dipali says:

    Kiran- Phew! Hell hath no fury like the monsoons, some years.
    And yet, the rains are beautiful- so true.
    Lovely, scary post, Kiran:)

    Like

  6. Random Vignettes says:

    Me! Me! Me! U can’t live in Bombay for 25 years and then proclaim that you do not like monsoons 🙂

    Like

  7. momstir says:

    Lovely lovely post, Kiran.

    Like

  8. Anamika says:

    Beautiful post. I loved the monsoons and now I miss them. I am awed by your ability to paint such a vivid picture of your memories. You write great…of course…but you also remember very well.

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  9. Oh my god. Sitting here trembling, yet smiling at my own memories and the euphoria of driving rain.

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  10. Kakali says:

    Excellent post Kiran!
    Here in Seattle it is monsoon almost all year around, but this monsoon has no fury..it just goes on and on and on..silently.

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  11. churningthewordmill says:

    beautifully written 🙂

    your husband walked from andheri to VT!!!!!!! WOW!

    normally i love the rains… i hate it only when im stranded somewhere and cant get home ..or if i fall ill with the usual cold-cough caused by the multitude of viruses floatinf around… otherwise , i dnt complain about the torrential, unpredicatable rains..
    mandira

    Like

  12. churningthewordmill says:

    PS: can i blogroll ya?

    Like

  13. Beautiful. While the monsoons can be really scary at times, there is no denying its beauty.

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  14. Kiran Manral says:

    Mona: Havent got wet in a couple of years, kinda miss being drenched to the skin.

    Bangaloremom: Yes dear, its scary beautiful. The good days are brilliant, the bad days are hell.

    d: Its a lovely season isnt it?

    kbpm: Touchwood. Which is why I moved out of my old place. Every year, the damn area flooded up, and we would be flooded in for a couple of days. Horrible. After July 26, 2005, we were for a week without water and electricity and garbage disposal. Water had reached the first floor of the building then.

    Dipali: Its the true manifestation of the raw force of nature. Summer and winter we manipulate through acs and heaters. The monsoon we cant do a thing, except endure it.

    RV: Yes, yes, its a Mumbaiya thing..

    Suki: LOL. And of course, all the censored memories that one doesnt blog about.

    Kakali: That is depressing isnt it, no drama, no chaos, no uncertainty. Just a steady damp drizzling.

    Mandira: Yup, he did. How can I not love this man? And yes, I am now pampered enough to hate getting wet in the rains.
    Would be honoured.

    Mystic margarita: beautifully scary. And very very humbling!

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  15. :sigh:
    No censored-type memories featuring the rain. Very beautiful memories of sitting by the University jheel, composing and singing what we now know is pure crap, as the rain suddenly cracks down on us with a thunderclap. And that I shall refuse to elaborate on till I write a “Jab We Met” post!

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  16. Divya says:

    Delurking… Coz that is a totally “wow” (albeit scary) post!

    Like

  17. march hare says:

    I am generally a lurker here. But this time just had to say it out loud. That was utterly, utterly beautiful.

    Like

  18. Prita says:

    Finally delurking! I faithfully read both your blogs. I have a 4 year old son myself.
    Your post made me all nostalgic for the Bombay monsoons..I now live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA where we do get a good 5 months of rain, but nothing that beats the good old ‘rainy season’. How can I forget the smelly Duckback raincoats (and ‘gumboots’) and wading through knee deep water to get to school.
    Oh well, I will now live vicariously through you and my parents emails to me..
    Great blogs!

    Like

  19. chandni says:

    I do I do!

    Even after being stuck during the watter logging in mumbai…and wading through muck up till my neck!

    Like

  20. aka.monica says:

    yes i love this season too. how can i forget the numerous walks down marine drive in the rain, wading through waist deep water at dadar circle, sitting on the wet benches at hanging garden…all with my closest friend who is now my husband. truly bollywood ishtyle! and lots of other memories stranded in trains, buses.
    how can i forget july 26 2005 – i had to cancel and rebook my flight tickets from blore-bbay. my parents were worried how we would get there. the husband and i reached bbay on aug 6 and we got married on aug 24 🙂
    have so many fond memories of mumbai particularly in the rains.
    ive read your blog off and on. leaving a comment only now. missed meeting you when u were in blore.

    Like

  21. Morpheus says:

    I like the monsoons. The power of nature, the drama in the sky, its a show that mother nature puts on..with the full works on cue..thunder, lightning and rain!! Drama!! Its far better than this pathetic British rain…where often I stare at the sky and say, you want to pour then POUR goddamit..dont do this trickle which just makes everything damp. Pour and then let the sun come out to evaporate everything into big black clouds and let the matinee show start!
    Nice blog you have here..

    Like

  22. Great, great post. My god, just yesterday and day before I was in Bombay and wondering what I would do if I got stranded due to the rain. Can’t believe what you went through – it’s horrifying.

    Like

  23. Priyanka says:

    I do I do!! As long as I don’t get wet, I looovvve the monsoons!! 😉

    Like

  24. Sunita says:

    I love the rains too. I was born admist heavy rains with thunder and lightining. I was drenched in the first showers in Pune this time.
    Beautiful post. I loved it.

    Like

  25. Rohini says:

    I have been meaning to come to this blog of yours for ages and kept forgetting. Cursing myself for not coming by sooner. You write so very beautifully!

    Like

  26. Kiran Manral says:

    Suki: Well, will take your word for it ;p

    Divya, MarchHare: Am truly honoured.

    Prita: Your comment made me all nostalgic for gumboots and those tarpaulin like raincoats. The kids these days have it so good and trendy but those had a charm all their own. Keep coming back, and commenting.

    Chandni: I knew you would. An intense person like you, definitely is a monsoon person.

    Monica: Glad the monsoon didnt play complete spoilsport to your wedding. I know of someone who started labour pains during 26 July, and had to walk through chest deep water to reach the hospital…

    Morpheus: Welcome and thank you for your kind comments. Yes, we have enough and more drama here. And thats the beauty.

    BEV: It is humbling, the uncertainty.

    Priyanka: I dont mind the getting wet occasionally when I know home is at easy reach. But not if I am a long way off from home.

    Sunita: Thanks. Havent got drenched yet though this time round.

    Rohini: Glad you did. Keep coming back. No baby or brat talk here.

    Like

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