Thursday, August 23, 2007

It Rains...

At 8:50 this morning, I left home to walk to the bus stop, where I would board a bus which would take me to campus to do my work for the day. It had rained a lot last night, and I expected the sky to be clear of clouds, the sun to be shining and the humidity to rise. But I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the weather was actually far more clement than I had expected it to be. It was what most people call a "dreary, gloomy day". But those are the days I love the most. My idea of fabulous weather is a cloudy, cold-ish, wet and windy day. Iowa does not very often have such beautiful weather. And when it does happen, it does not last long. It didn't today, and the sun is shining bright now, but this morning was glorious. I seriously considered calling in sick and taking the morning off to walk through the wet grass and feel the wind on my face.

Years ago, when I still lived at home in Hyderabad, if you got up really really early in the morning during the Monsoon, you could experience weather very similar to the weather this morning in Ames. It would have to be before six o'clock in the morning, before the sunlight has started to directly fall on the earth. I rarely got up that early, but when I did, I would sneak off to the terrace, which for some reason, my mother did not encourage. I think she might have been afraid that I would catch a chill, and she preferred me to drink my hot cup of Horlicks and get down to the business of ploughing through my books, for she is a great believer in the power of early morning study. But as often as I could in the months of July and early August, I would sneak off to the terrace. I would walk barefoot on the damp concrete, and imagine I was treading on damp sand on some faraway seashore. Here and there on the terrace where there were tiny depressions, water from the night's rain would collect, and I would splash my feet in this water, feeling how cold it was. Since our terrace was much more open then, and not surrounded by larger buildings, the wind used to move freely, and I used to close my eyes and walk around the terrace relishing the blowing of the gentle breeze on my damp feet. I would let my hair out and let the wind blow in it and feel it also on my arms and my cheeks.

And I always stopped to look at the four tall Ashoka trees that the people who lived across the street from us had growing in their front yard. I love Ashoka trees... there is something romantic about them. I think it might be the memory of my childhood... there were so many of them growing on my school premises, alongside the silvery-green Eucalyptus, the enormous, rooty Banyans, the completely foul prickly Ber shrubs and a lone giant of a Mango tree that never ever in my memory yielded any mangoes. I felt bonded to my neighbors' Ashoka trees. I would also circle the terrace stopping religiously every time to smell the curry-leaf tree that daddy had tended since its infancy, to look at the Tulsi growing in Raju uncle's backyard, see if the roses had bloomed in the backyard of the mean-spirited lady who lived behind our house, and to survey the asbestos that roofed the little preschool that stood behind our house, because some little scamps always managed to throw things high enough to land on the roof... it was a water-bottle sometimes, or a damp origami airplane, or a flower, some half-eaten fruit, or a handkerchief... it was different each time, and grippingly interesting to me. I would stay then for another twenty minutes or so before the sun really rose and the day showed all indications of bending to his will and growing hot. Then I would return reluctantly to my cup of Horlicks and my books.

There is an age right at the onset of adolescence when every such tangible sensation seems hopelessly and completely absolute. When one is a child, one feels and learns so much, but it is done, I think, in the spirit of learning about the world. As a young adolescent, one experiences the same things, but feels anew because one does so in the spirit of rediscovering a new, budding, lovely person within oneself. It is during such a beautiful era in my life that I woke to the pleasures of wet, windy, cloudy mornings. And I believe that it is because I experienced such mornings in such tremendously absolute glory, that I still long and yearn for weather like that. I think I could be an old old woman, and I would still feel young, and fresh and joyful on mornings such as these. That is such a delicious thought!

I remember a poem by Longfellow that tells of rainy days, in quite a different context, but nevertheless calls them dreary.

"The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary."

But I think such a day is beautiful!


ian skidmore said...

continue to think each day is beautiful and thank you for your kind words which led to the discovery of your blog

Asha Stephen said...

Thank you very much. You are too kind! :)