Friday, November 18, 2005

Romancing the Monsoon

-Arundhati Bopardikar

It was raining yesterday - the usual North Californian rain - calculated and cold. There is no such thing as enjoying the rains here. We walk out of our little boxes at work and hurry to another box, the car, and then to the last box, our apartment, hating the rains along the way. Rains and cold has now become such a fixed pair in my mind! Sometimes I feel so sad that I have lost the association with the Monsoons.

Not too long back (or was it?) I would have been on a two wheeler with my dearest friend, Mukta, heading for Sinhagad – an ancient fort near my city - right in the hardest of the Monsoon rains. We would have gone up there amidst the fog and mist and peered down to see, if anything, of the valley below. It would not have mattered that we could see nothing at all. The fog itself would have offered infinite possibilities. The sheer uniformity of it would set us free take any direction we liked. It would make way as we moved ahead; creating a cozy, private enclosure, hiding all that was unpleasant. What a walk in the clouds it would have been!

The fog, though, is treacherous thing, they say. It beckons you to test yourselves beyond the limits of sanity. So much so, that I have heard tale of a young man who, mesmerized by the fog, jumped straight to his death in the valley below. Once you surrounded by the fog, this story does not seem as insane. Anything seems possible there. You are so incredibly close to yourself that the boundaries between the mind and matter, the inside and out get blurred, to the extent that you don't know what is truth and what is imagination. Life seems to have no beginning or end, just ‘middle’, stretched to infinity on both sides; so much like the fog.

I happened to be in Konkan- a region in the coastal Maharashtra - one Monsoon season and experienced what Monsoons are really about. Every Monsoon, the Earth and the sky play a mating dance there. The sky takes her passionately, mercilessly and she rises to every challenge, soaking in the nourishment he has to offer, demanding for more and more. Who wins, who looses - does not matter. What matters is the pure, raw, primal passion - love as it should be.

In the hiatus, the Earth bursts with life. Thousands of species of plants begin their journey at this time with an infinite promise of life. It is green everywhere, but the greenery is not ephemeral. It does not consist of grass that grows in the Monsoons and dies with it. The plants are as passionate for life as their mother. They reach into the depths of her for nutrition and soon learn to thrive on their own. Nothing is left untouched by this magic; no patch of soil, no corner of a home, no stack of hay. It is like the Earth is making a statement against all that is sullied and impure, displaying, in full force, its capacity to create life.

I have always found the fragrance of wet soil maddening. Every time I fill my lungs with the delicious breath, my heart begins to beat a tad faster and my mind is filled with a curious anticipation. A nameless passion, a sense of unbounded creativity and infinite hope, suffuse my being and my life becomes a beautiful symphony. Everything seems possible at this time and every dream seems more vibrant than ever. Is that how the Earth feels when it soaks in the first drops of rain?

The Monsoons are the harbingers of a new beginning. They teach you to leave behind all that needs to be left behind, and to move ahead with a pure heart and indefatigable spirit. They beckon you to renew yourselves, to rejuvenate your dreams and to redefine the boundaries of your existence. When it rains in torrents, there is no time for regret, no place for sorrow. Everything is washed away with the sheer force of life and a new way is paved for the future. The Monsoons remind you of the wheel of existence which turns and moves on, not paying heed to any obstacles that might cross its path.

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