06 Jul 2015
Come the month of June and an annual meteorological phenomenon takes over our nations psyche and imagination. After the long hot summer, further exacerbated in the North by the scorching arid winds from neighbouring deserts, the entire country waits with anticipation for that first monsoon rain. In city after city a collective sigh of relief is exhaled when the skies darken and menacing clouds prowl the sky, colliding with one another, growling with thunder and then exploding, raining down and soaking the parched earth…and we all drink in that unforgettable fragrance the dry earth releases after the first rain. Year after year the drama unfolds replete with all the attendant memories…of ‘chai and pakora’ tea times, the ‘succulent bhutta’ gently roasted on coal embers, the luscious mangoes and litchis that fill the fruit markets and those melodious rain songs from our Hindi films.
On a more mundane level, there is an annual media hype over the monsoons and if forecasts and experts and analysts are to be believed, this one event is supposed to decide not just the health of our rural economy and by inference the share price index, but our national mood. As the season progresses, the roads take a battering. Often houses and streets are waterlogged and slum areas are flooded despite drainage systems. And when the heavens are extra generous, there are floods which cause severe economic loss including damage to property and loss of lives. The seasons change, we forget it all and again await our yearly date with the rains.
For thousands of years the romance of the monsoon has continued to excite our creative fancy and inspire reams of poetic expressions from Kalidas and his epic “Meghdootam” to Rabindranath Tagore. In one of Tagores poems he actually pays homage to Kalidas’s epic…quoting below a few lyrics from there…
“Ah supreme poet! That first hallowed day of Ashadha
On which in some unknown year
You wrote your Meghdoota…
Countless first days of the rainy season have passed
And every year has given new life to your poem
By showering it with fresh rain…
…the stanzas like dark layered sonorous clouds
Heaping the misery of separated lovers
Into thunderous music…and every year lovers ask the cloud
To once again carry their tearful message of love…”