Have you seen it rain?

Have you seen it rain? I mean really rain. I mean the kind that starts with some grandfatherly clouds with their grey hair and cloudy beard moving overhead at the kind of pace that only grandparents move? They’re not slow, strictly speaking. They look like immovable objects who’d really rather not be moved. Those clouds. The kind that grow bigger and darker by the time you’ve made some tea to enjoy by the window. They’re not bursting at the seams quite yet. They’re biding their time. Just hanging out and watching the baby sparrows learning to fly and the humans below scurrying around to find shelter before the downpour. The only ones who aren’t, are some kids playing football. The sparrows aren’t retreating just yet either. The breeze is now a little more brisk than a moment ago. It’s brought with it that familiar petrichor which makes me want to step outside and raise my face to the clouds, arms outstretched like we used to as kids. Someone in my house is yelling (at me?) to get the clothes from the balcony where they’ve been hung out to dry. As I stretch out to grab the last ones, a huge droplet of water lands on my hand. I accidentally drop the clip that had secured the pyjama on the line. I yell at my sister to run downstairs to retrieve it. She ran out, leaving the main door open behind her. The wind was stronger now. It would momentarily force the door shut, loudly. My neighbor’s clothes, I noticed, are still out on their clothesline.

And then it starts. One by one the massive drops of rain hit the ground. Pitter-patter, pitter-patter, pitter-patter. It gets heavier by the second. In the distance, a solitary rod of lightning. Thud-Tut-thud. Thunder. It’s a bit muffled but powerful. It’s not just a loud sound. It’s like music in three syllables. Thud-Tut-thud. It’s only the first one but it sounds like a drumroll but like the short notes the dummer plays before the gig begins. Just a playful warmup act. The birds seem to have got the message. They’re nowhere to be seen. The kids too have gone home in a hurry, it looks like. They’ve abandoned the football outside. I should probably unplug the TV. The rain is now heavier. 

I can no longer see anything outside my balcony. If I stood by the window, the rain would hurt my face. They raindrops are heavy. From here, it looks like a curtain of water. Perhaps this is what it’s like standing under a waterfall. Occasionally, a powerful enough gush of wind will cause the curtain to flutter. But it’s resolute and unrelenting and it will be this way for hours. Just bouncing off leaves on trees and disappearing into the shrubs below and soon forming a little river on the roads and a muddy stream on the footpaths. The sound of thunder is now coming at me from multiple directions in quick succession. But even those aren’t loud enough to be heard clearly over the sound of the rain. There’s no electricity now. We’re shrouded in darkness. For a split second, the lightning reflects off the million drops of rain and lights up the entire neighborhood. This is theatre. The rain is dancing. The sky provides pyrotechnics and the clouds, sound. I’m only watching on in awe. How is this all for free??

It’s no longer so loud. You can heard the thunder, though. Those kids have ventured out to the ground, unfazed. They’re not interested in the football anymore. The puddles are more inviting. They’re splashing each other like that advertisement for surf excel. I see their parents out on their balcony, hands on hip, absolutely fuming but reluctant to step out to retrieve their offspring for fear of getting drenched. I think they’re shouting but their voice isn’t quite carrying. 

The clouds are now clearing up. The birds have returned to carry on with their sorties. The kids are throwing the football into the puddle and laughing at whoever the water splashes on. It looks like fun to be honest. 

Now, the only falling water is the residue from the leaves and the soaking wet clothes in my neighbor’s balcony. The earth feels fresh. Everything feels alive now. The birds are in full flight and chirping. The kids have started playing football again. The distant roar of thunder has been replaced by the cacophony of traffic. My poor neighbor, entirely drenched and probably famished, has just parked her scooter. She probably doesn’t share my enthusiasm for this weather. 

Have you seen it rain? That rain. 

Bengaluru, 2018

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