Saturday, 21 April 2007

MONSOON

The car proceeded manoevring the undulating hairpin curves embracing the Western Ghats. It has been a long time since the vehicle has left the bustling Cochin City.Mary John looked out through the window pane.The tar road is getting scorched in the ruthless sun.Mary John's sixty year old eyes scanned the entire sky-not even a sign of Monsoon clouds.She did not find any difference in this sky and the Dubai sky.When she is coming to Kerala after a long gap of three years,that too in the month of June,when Monsoon is ought to be in its peak,this kind of behaviour from the clouds is totally unexpected.Not that her heart was yearning for monsoon.When you have set foot in your enemy's territory ,you know you will have to come across him today or tomorrow.And the delay in the encounter will deteriorate your mental strength.She knew, she will have to witness the monsoon romancing,dancing and ravaging through;today or tomorrow.
Has it not been raining here?”,she asked the driver.
“Rains!!Eh..The monsoon has been behaving very oddly for the last three years.Year before last year it rained like hell.It caused mass destruction.Landslips,thunderbolts,cyclones..Lots of people died.However last year it was the exact opposite.It was very scanty.That too after much delay.And it resulted in famine.Many farmers committed suicide.This year,it seems its worse.Its almost the end of June.But not even a single drop yet.And its boiling.People are dying of sunstroke.Such things were unheard of,atleast in Kerala.Monsoon has become totally unreliable now.”He replied.
'It was always unreliable'Mary thought in mind.
The surroundings corroborated his statement.Parched tree trunks with drooping leaves.The meadows which used to be lush green now turned brownThe mountains denuded now due to the absence of the waterfalls which used to garland them.
The vehicle stopped at a tea-shop and Mary John and her husband Mr.John Thomas got down.A rusty board installed by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation read-”Valara Waterfalls”.The board is still there.But where is the waterfall.Mary was shocked to see the majestic waterfall which used to enthrall many minds with its grandeur,being shrunk to a thin fibre.What waterfall without water.
“Kerala boiling.Meteorologists say that monsoon may not hit Kerala for the next two weeks”An old radio in the tea-shop screamed.Before it could complete what it was saying,it went off.
“Oh!!This power cut.All the dams are empty.Then how can there be power.What an ill fate!!”The tea-shop owner cursed.
“I hope it won't rain for tomorrow's funeral.”David,who was sleeping througout the journey,opened his mouth.He is Mary's cousin.He came to pick them up from Ariport.Mary and her husband were leading their life in Dubai.Three years back,she had vowed that she won't ever set foot in this dreaded place.But the love and gratitude for Jose uncle forced here to break her vow.Tomorrow is that octogenerian's funeral.If it was'nt for Jose uncle there would not have been Mary John.Joseph uncle was a suitable substitute for her parents.Perhaps her own parents could not have given her the love and care that Jose unlce gave.
Those days were golden days.For the ten year old Mary her Adimaly village was a paradise.She with her Appa,Amma and her one year old little brother Appu lived happily.She used to throb around her lovely village like a lamb.And the month of June-July,when Monsoon would be dancing down the earth,is the time when nature looked the most beautiful.The callous summer sun would leave the land bereft of the passionate touch of monsoon.The heated up,thirsty virgin earth will passionately wait for the skies to open up and to come down to her.Finally,as an answer to all that impatient waiting,the winds will bring the dark dense Monsoon clouds, which will drive away the blazing sun which won't be able to witness the sacramental marriage of sky and land.Thunderbolts will lit up the entire area and will announce the advent of the dark handsome groom.All the trees nodding to give consent to this holy ceremony.Finally, with the permission of all forces of nature, sky will embrace land.Rain drops kiss the land and the intoxicating smell of earth emanates from the land surface.
When sky had given away all that it had to give, land will get satisfied,but still yearning for more.New life will sprout out at the denouement of their love making.All the trees and plants get rejuvenated.Seeds sprouting out.All streams and rivers inundated with vociferously
flowing water,which is now abundant with different schools of fish.All energy stored in the clouds now redistributed among all life forms.
Next day sun revisits.Not as blazing as before.Those rain drops which felt shy of landing on earth and had taken refuge on the leaves reflecting the sunrays to produce different kinds of spectrum.Kids appear with fishing rods.Some find fun in floating paper baots in puddles.The miniature form of Titanic hit against a pebble and started to sink.Kids were re-enacting the melodrama of the James Cameroon epic.The advent of monsoon made people very cheerful.
That was the nature of monsoon during those days.It was very punctual.And docile.But sometimes it will turn a bit naughty and will play some pranks.Such a prank overturned Mary's life.It was like any other day.It was evening and the clouds had started to envelope sun. She was getting ready to go to church for the choir practice.Before leaving she gave a kiss on the rosy cheeks of little Appu.She found her brother a wonderful creation.He was unbelievably small.She wondered whether human beings can be so small and tiny.His soft plummish limbs,small round face,tiny sparkling eyes.So astonishing.She could'nt imagine that one day this tiny cute creature will be as tall and big as her dad.She took him in her arms and tickled him.And the baby started chuckling.She did'nt want to keep him down.
“Oh!You have'nt gone yet.Go before it satrts raining.Dont forget the umbrella.”Mother strated to scold.
As soon as she kept him down,he started crying.He wanted to be in her arms.He wanted to accompany her.It is said that babie being incarnation of heavenly agentsthey can foresee future.However,since human beings can't understand their heavenly language properly,they can't comprehend anything.
As the choir practice was going on,wind started to blow.It was not the normal genteel wind.It blew belligerently.All the candles in the church were blown off.All the doors and windows were shaking on their rickety hinges.All the coconut trees oscillating madly.Mary felt scared.It was dark inside the church.Suddenly a thunderbolt struck.The gilrs felt that the sky has broken into pieces and is falling down.They started reciting rosary.It was thickly dark in the church.It started raining heavily.Rain,wind and thunder competing against each other to prove who is the most aggressive.It was like pebbles showering on the tin sheets of the church.In the lightning Mary could see the crucifix.It appeared scary.Lightning only illuminating the blood stains and the stigmata.Not the graceful face of Christ.It was very gory.Mary screamed.It rained heavily the entire night.The girls had to spend the night inside the church.
Next morning Jose uncle came to church to pick up Mary.His face was gloomstruck.She could see banana plantations lying flat on ground;coconut trees uprooted.Houses demolished.There was a crowd near her house.Besides a fire engine,ambulance and police jeep.She was bewildered.She was shocked to see a huge boulder at the place where her home situated.Home totally demolished.Her house situated at the foot of a hill.During yesterday night's heavy rain, the land above her house slipped and slided down.And the huge boulder rolled down and crashed on her home.Entire home ground.And in the ambulance was kept the frozen bodies of Appa,Amma and Appu.She was'nt able to comprehend anything.Jose unlce came near her”They've left.They've left us.”And statred to sob.She got into the ambulance.She wanted to see Appa,Amma and Appu.Then the people came and took her out.They did'nt want her to see the horrificaly deformed bodies of Appa,Amma and Appu.
That was the first time she realized how ruthlessly monsoon can play with lives.After that she grew up in Jose uncle's home.They brought her up with utmost love and care.But that grave incident left an indelible imprint in her mind.She got really scared of rain.She used to have nightmaresof hurricanes,bloodstained crucifix lit by lightning ,Appu screaming under the boulder and all.And the doctors advised that,further stay in this place might may prove detrimental for her mental strength.So she was sent to a convent school in Hyderabad.She studied well.She visited her village only during summer vacation.Time made her mature.Still,when the skies opened up,she felt some sort of fear at the depth of her heart.It made her very uncomfortable.She completed her graduation and got a job in Dubai.There she met John.They fell in love and got married.After waiting for four years,God gifted them with a son,Martin.They lived in Dubai happily.They often used to go to Kerala.But never visited Adimaly.Just because Mary was not comfortable with it.
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The car stopped at Jose uncle's home.Mary felt that her whole body was trembling.All the memories brought back.Things she did'nt want to recollect.Her husband guided her in.There was lying the ninety five year old body of Jose uncle.More than the bereavemnt of her guardian,the involuntary recollection of the past was painful.Throughout the funeral ceremony all the memories about Martin popped up in her mind.She was having a knife in her heart.The only solace for her was that it did'nt rain.
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Martin turned 18.He was smart and handsome.He completed his twelth from Dubai.For a long time he has been pestering Mary for a visit to her hamlet,Adimaly.However,she was reluctant to that idea.She had only pricking memories about that place.It was a haunted place for her.But now,she could also feel her heart yearning for visit to her village.And she has gotover her phobia for rain.She could bear rain in Hyderabad and Cochin.Then why not rain in Adimaly.
So they decided to go to Adimaly.They got a very warm welcome there.All the people gathered to have a glance of Mary and her family.It has been over a decade since she has visited her village.All the love that was remaining stagnant in the hearts outflowed.
“Ma,it's a crime that you hid this place from me.”Martin complained.And it was another monsoon season.Martin could'nt do anything but to love it.He danced according to its rhythm.Its music intoxicated him.He could sense the soul of monsoon beckoning his.
One day he and his localite friend Rajamany went out in a bike to capture the scenic beuty of the village in lens.He was a photography freak.But it was the day when rain gods decided to let loose.Madness unleashed.It danced down franticly.Martin did'nt return that night.
Next day his body clad in white was brought to their home.While he was taking the snap of mountains standing at the edge of a cliff , a thunderbolt struck him.He died instantaneously.
It was something Mary could'nt bear.It totally devastated her.Her only son.Only hope.Only reason why she was living.Taken way.Taken away by the same monsoon which left her an orphan at a tender age.Same villain.Same victim.She screamed.She yelled.She was raging with grief,despair,anger and revenge.It rained even on the day of his funeral.Each raindrops harrowing her.Vendetta solidified in her mind.If monsoon takes a human form and stands infront of her,she would chop it off and would set it ablaze.She threw stones at the clouds.
“You,ve taken my Appa,Amma and Appu.Now you've taken my only son.Why don't you take me?What grave sin have I committed?”She yelled.He husband was more composed and he tried to make her calm.
After that both of them returned to Dubai.They tried to forget everything.They donated all their wealth to orphanges.
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Funeral. of Jose uncle was over.She was now roaming around the dry,dusty and parched up village.She reached the place where here home was situated.Now people are digging a tube well there.
“What to do Ma'm?All groundwater dried up.Now we have to dig deep”They said
'Monsoon playing another prank'She sighed.
A banner caught her attention-”All religions' prayer meeting for rain at Panchayath Auditorium.Tomorrow at 5 30 PM.Please come and co-operate.”
She went for it.The Vicar of the church ,Moulvi of the Masjid and the Head of the Temple were leading the prayer meeting.
Quintessential display of secularism.!
“We all know,rain plays a pivotial role in sustaining our lives.It is the life-giver.It is the life-supporter.But for the last two three years rain has not been blessing us.If it is because of our sins that rain is cursing us ,then lets pray for the forgival of our sins.Lets pray to God Almighty.”The vicar was speaking.As he saw Mary he stammered a bit.Everybody know the havoc wreaked in Mary's life by rain.Life-destroyer being hailed as life-saver and life-supporter.
Mary also joined the prayer.”You ruined my life.Don't ruin the life of these poor villagers.Please come down.Before leaving this village I want to experience you.Probably our last encounter”
Next day the car came to take Mary and husband to airport.As they were packing up a wind blew.A cool breeze.A refreshing breeze.As they looked up, they could see sun hiding behind the advancing clouds.Sky turned dark.Faces lit up.Rumbles of thunder and people started to dance according to its beat.
“RAIN!!RAIN!!ITS GOING TO RAIN!!” People screamed in joy.
Mary looked up the sky.A rain drop fell on her wrinkled face.An apology from the skies.Then the next one.Next one.And the heavy downpour.Mary and husband got into car and drove off.Not wanting to witness one more monsoon
MANU SEBASTIAN

2 comments:

kartikey said...

monsoo is beautiful as well
dear manu
man u have every potential of being a gr8 writer
the only thing is u start ur stories in bit lesser words
u have the feel but y do beat about the bushes so much
got impressed wid RAZOR'S EDGE that's y i read MONSOON
otherwise i cud have left it after 5 paragraphs
...............................................................
y do ur stories deals wid darker sides of life
(a freindly question)

Ketan said...

Manu,

Surprisingly, this is one of the best stories by you. Maybe the only one I liked better was about the Marathi king.

Your imagery was excellent. The scene of the church, for instance. Also how Mary views her young brother and her open wonder at his smallness were both very endearing.

But your narration lacked a certain kind of crispness. Like how one fact should lead into the other, and not they should seem like two isolated facts merely enlisted. This flaw was particularly apparent in your description of Mary's life Hyderabad onwards and in Dubai.

But then I also understand this was one of your earlier stories, and you've grown from that point.

TC.