I grew up in Kerala in the 70s, a time when the south west monsoon used to be a phenomenon and a force to reckon with.
It would rain for days non-stop, and not just the kind of rain you see in other parts of the country – a downpour and done. Nope.
This was rain falling in buckets and cats and dogs, together. This was torrential beyond words; the kind of rain that would uproot trees and swell up rivers and fall like there was no tomorrow. This was the kind of rain that once started, no one would ever know when it would stop.
This kind of rain would mean ironing uniforms including socks to wear to school even after they’d purportedly ‘dried’.
This was the kind of rain that you could ‘hear’ – even when you’d be asleep; hear the thunder and lightening and hear the pelting down of water with such force from the sky that you’d be woken up by it.
This was the kind of rain that caused so much destruction that some of my fondest memories from childhood are of staying in a hotel with my friends because of electricity failure for days!
We’d wear slippers in the rainy months every where we went and have an umbrella in our hands at all times.
Yes, that is the kind of rain I grew up with, when we’d be soaking wet returning from school and would come home and open the school bag and put our books under the fan to dry, and would change into dry clothes and still want to go up to the terrace with an umbrella, to make boats, or splash in the water and just play.
Yes, we’d fall sick and our mothers would holler at us to not play in the water, but did we hear!
That, in short, was my childhood.
Well, it doesn’t rain like that in Kerala any more. My father is often filled with nostalgia about the rainfall of those days and the manner in which our lives would be thrown out of gear, but we’d still go on, without a halt.
He recently told me about the time when we (my parents, brothers and I) were going to Cochin from Trivandrum, and the electrical circuitry of our Fiat Padmini gave way. We stood stranded in the middle of the road, under torrential rain – he called it “Tada Tad Baarish” – until we were rescued by a lorry driver who got off to see why we were parked in the middle of the highway, in the dead of night. He, thankfully, had a tow rope with him and we were towed to Quilon for the night.
This post was triggered when I stood in my office balcony and looked wistfully at the pouring rain, imagining the happiness of getting drenched, but not having the guts to do it any more. I was struck by how little we enjoy the rain now and how insulated we are from it.
What wouldn’t I give to be a child again!