According to my watch its just 5.48 am. And I’m up and fidgeting about in my Calcutta home. The weather is just right for my mood. It has been raining ceaselessly since last night. Not pouring as such, just raining. Thunder and lightning included. And with that cool breeze which usually accompanies the monsoons in Calcutta – which blows just before the sky turns its signature dark red and the windows start banging and the people start running for shelter. It is this weather which puts me in a wonderfully happy mood, makes me think romantic thoughts, makes me want to go out and meet all my friends and have a party, makes me wish I had never left Calcutta.
I’m sitting in the veranda of my grandmother’s home. This has always been my comfort spot. I can sit here quietly for hours on end and just keep looking at the street – at the kids clutching their mother’s hand, running to reach school before the guards at South Point decide to shut the gate; at the colourful cotton sari clad women who got off at Bullygunge station and are now gossiping about the houses they work in; at the parking ‘dada’ – I think his name is Raju – who will look at each car several times to make sure it is parked perfectly in tune with his likings and the owner would take at least 10 minutes to drive it out, giving him enough time to come from wherever he is sitting and demanding the fee.
During the monsoon, this lane would just be a riot of colours. Some kids would have umbrellas that can be fixed on their heads with a band (this is one of my personal ‘to-have’ items, along with Amitabh Bachchan’s light-dress in ‘saara zamaanaa’ and a sipper bottle and a library). Others would just wear a shiny raincoat, brought preferably from Duck back, with printed flowers or geometrical designs on them. Mothers would have their folding umbrellas in myriad colours and patterns while the simple dads would carry their black, no-nonsense ones and walk. A few shop owners will have a large plastic sheet covering them, while another takes care of his shop. Everyone would be muttering/ cursing under their breath “it just had to rain today, of all days, didn’t it”, “these little showers will only make it hotter and more humid”, “all my plans for the day would have to be changed now, drat!”… But every one of them would have a skip in their step – and not entirely to escape the puddles.
I obviously have very fond memories of rains. From the time I learned how to make paper boats in nursery, to the time when I went to school soaking wet just before my pre-board exams even though I had an umbrella in my bag. I have danced some silly, junglee dances with my friends in Nicco Park – in the process spoiling two cell phones. I have run down the streets of gariahat, pretending to be in a hurry while only trying to get drenched and laugh at everyone else. I have run away from school to a friend’s place while the city drowned, my parents had mild heart attacks and my sister visited each and every neighbour’s house within a 2 km radius. I have had my first proper kiss, and my zillion little dances, the start to many wonderful trips and chai and biscuit gossips with mummum – all during and largely because of the rains in Calcutta. Oh, how do I stay away from this city!!