It has been raining in Chennai…raining very beautifully. I love rain and love the world when it rains. I observe that the rain really turns something on inside the hearts of the Chennaiites who face the wrath of the sun at other times of the year..The essential difference between children and adults is blatant in these times.
Scene 1 Under the trees near the school 7.30 a.m.
Little kids splashing in puddles with anxious parents hollering at them. Wet shoes, wet socks, heavy schoolbags, rain-soaked faces, smiling . Wet leaves strewn all over the ground, wet red flowers…drooped and red..Swamp and mud…soiled clothes!
Scene 2 At the bus stop 7.45 a.m.
Two little kids, a boy and a girl have an open umbrella each…much bigger than they can handle. Both are in little green school uniforms. Their mothers gaze at the empty road for an invisible bus to arrive…The kids make a lot of noise. The little girl begins to attack the boy’s umbrella with her own. She says “We’ll fight” and both begin banging each others’ umbrellas, screeching and wild. Other anxious adults are wondering if the kids would hurt themselves. They are waiting for one of the umbrellas to go snap…
The mothers are oblivious to the noise and the fun. Suddenly, they realize that their kids are upto some mischief.The girl’s mother says “Eii…kudu!” and snatches the umbrella away. The girl has a long face and she protests. The boy’s mother has done her share in snatching his umbrella away. The umbrellas are folded; the kids are now perched on their mothers’ waists whining and sulking. Party’s over! Suddenly, a new game begins. The boy starts peeking at the girl over his mother’s shoulder and they make faces. The laughter begins again. The mothers are still worrying about the bus, the cooking, the grocery bills and the ruined wet shoes…
Scene 3 At the college 8.30 a.m.
People are running up and down the stairs and messy corridors…all the stone benches are covered with water and leaves. People walk as fast as they can to get away from the rain… Umbrellas, dupattahs, notebooks over their heads.. Nobody stops…nobody listens…nobody watches the rain and the mushrooms that have sprouted. Small caterpillars lay squished and dead!
Scene 4 Under a lonely tree 11.00 a.m.
Brown mushrooms have sprouted. A crow preens herself…she looks odd with a lopsided gaze and her feathers sticking out. A sparrow comes for a quick dive into a puddle. The grass is teeming with life. There are several caterpillars going up and down. Someone is sitting on a wet stone bench feeling the wetness crawl up the spine. Everything is greener than ever. The puddles have little bubbles and ripples erupting.
Scene 5 At the bus stop 1.00 p.m.
People wait with soiled pants indignant to cars that splash muddy water as they pass by. The electric cable looks like a string of pearls, little water droplets clinging onto it all the way. Pedestrians and cyclists are on the middle of the road…careful not to step into the water (who knows how many people spat in this water, what if there is a manhole or a pit, one will get filaria if one walks in this water..) Little kids splash barefoot in the water. Some adult comes and croaks at them. The little girls walk off shy and giggling. The little boys pretend like they did not hear the croak. Shoes have mud patterns all over. A dog gives himself a good shake spraying water all around… and scratches his neck. Nobody sits next to the windows on the buses..they don’t want dripping water and drizzle spray on their faces and clothes.
Scene 5 At the school 1.30 p.m.
A little kid wears a raincoat much bigger than him. His hands are somewhere hidden in its folds. He trudges behind his father with a huge boulder of a schoolbag on his back…hidden under the raincoat as well.
A little girl puts her hand out to feel the rain…as her mother carries her on her waist, under the cover of a huge colorful umbrella.
Scene 6 At the apartment 1.45 p.m.
At home, all clothes hang indoors with the smell of detergent. All windows are shut…the drizzle will wet the room. All the lights are on..darkness conquered. The television blares…the sounds of the rain, stifled…