by Abha Iyengar
The darkened sky and the sound of thunder, with the skies pouring down their misery, always contrasted with her mood, which would begin to lighten immediately at the sight of rain.
She could never understand why people associated rain with misery and huddled in corners and smelt their clothes for mustiness and waited for the sun to come out. Why they said that rain kept them indoors. They told her that if they stepped out, their feet squelched in the rubbish that littered the streets and now floated in the muddy waters flooding the roads. They hated the stink of rotting vegetables, worse than the smell of fish that floated up from the sea into their seaside apartments.
For her rain was romance like she had seen in the Hindi movies. She loved watching them. In ‘Shri 420’, Nargis and Raj Kapoor walked in the rain under a black umbrella, promising eternal love. In ‘Namak Halaal’, Amitabh Bachchan romanced Smita Patil, singing lustily on the rain-drenched Mumbai streets.
She looked out of the window at the sharp little needles that pierced the earth, like a lover wanting to embed each pore. She shivered with the memory.
She was seventeen, and she and Rohan had sat at a chai shop, sipping hot tea from thick glasses. She had stuck her tongue out to taste the raindrops that fell, and he had looked at her. She could never forget that evening, the sun setting behind him, his eyes piercing her body, incessant and demanding.
Just this one memory, but it flooded her being each time rain fell. She held the window sill, then leant out of the window and stuck out her tongue.
published 27 November 2013