The newly made white concrete road was shining bright in the hot July sun and selflessly reflecting all the heat back to the surroundings. Sitting on the verandah was the only thing one could do when the electricity power cuts added on to miseries. The metrology department’s prediction of rain and; electricity department’s prediction of a continuous power supply had been failing for the last two weeks. According to metrology people the monsoons had halted at Allahabad for more than usual leaving Delhi parched and thirsty.
Sitting on the verandah, I was watching the newly built concrete road, the feat being accomplished only a week before. Although every body in the colony was very happy with the new road as the new roads placed the colony among the list of high profile ones, I still cherished the old brick layered muddy road. I felt that the intensity of heat had increased in last two weeks since the concrete was laid. I was thinking about the sweet smell which first rain drops falling on earth bring with it. I thought that the rains had not arrived that year because we never realized the actual joy of rains. We, the people had laid barrages between the first drops and the earth down below. So even the rain had retaliated back by halting at some place which I believe, still retained much of its rustic charm.
The thought of rain made me look up into the sky, hoping to see some rain bearing clouds coming. But I did not know which side they would be coming from and at present the only part of sky, unguarded by verandah roof and visible to me had no signs of saviour clouds. I don’t know how long I had been lost in thought when I saw Baniyan. That’s actually what me and my brother called my neighbor’s seven or eight year old son as he always wore only a vest (which in Hindi is called Baniyan).
His parents had just moved into the house at the end of our small unnamed street. Baniyan was especially close to my brother. Everytime he passed in front of my house, he would just peek through the slot in front wall, which my father had left years ago when our house was built to get illuminated name plate made of a translucent material with names of all the family members to be fixed in front of a bulb so that even at night everybody could know the inhabitants of the house. Years later, the slot was still empty and served as a window for Baniyan to call my brother. As my brother told me, he had not joined school till now. He spent most of his time out on the street as his mother went from house to house selling cheap talcum powders and other cosmetic materials.
As usual, he was playing all alone in the street. You can’t expect a soul like Baniyan to sit inside his house when there is a power cut. But what amused me that day was his strange play for the day. He had a bottle of water with him, from which he would gulp some water and then spit the water up at an angle towards sky; sending it into a projectile motion. He would then run forward trying to get underneath the water he had sent up into projectile. When some of the water drops would fall on him, he raised his hands in joy and shouted ‘Rain! Rain! He kept on enjoying his own artificial rain.
That was when I heard my mother said “Damn!!, When will these rains come? Even God takes no mercy on poor souls.”
‘Rains will come’, I thought.
Some people still know the real joy of rains.
Originally Published at Chowk (2007)