The water-melons slowly making way for the golden mangoes, dark grey clouds rushing in from nowhere to establish their sovereignty across the azure sky, the sudden afternoon thunderstorms playing the spoilsport and keeping the children indoors, the cool relief from the scorching heat as the sweet smell of the wet earth floats up and fills the air – the monsoon has finally arrived.
With the schools welcoming back the brats after a seemingly never-ending summer break, the young mothers are happily settling down to trade in the bustling mornings for the long-awaited peace and normalcy in the house. The grass looks fresh and green while the trees revel in the moist air providing succour to the leaves, tired of the merciless sunshine of the summer months. It is the season to forget those sleeveless, short dresses and fill the wardrobe with less-ventilated, monsoon outfits – a good excuse for making it to the malls when it is not raining.
Behind this picture-perfect, cool monsoon face, lurks a not-so-pleasant reality that only mothers of young children are acutely aware of. A visit to the hospitals and thereby hangs a tale. Children crowding around with running nose, sore throat, tearful eyes and incessant coughing.
Anxious mothers waiting for the doctor’s call, the pharmacy milling with the little patients tagging along with their sleep-deprived, exhausted mothers. Grandma’s home remedies not working wonders, the doctor’s medicines conspiring not to work particularly when the father is on an overseas trip, the hapless mother on the brink of a nervous breakdown, cough syrups flying off the shelves, thermometer becoming the bed-side companion during the painfully long nights.
Phew! The perfect recipe for mayhem! There is just one clan of human beings smiling through all this – the paediatricians. Welcoming the viruses with open arms, merrily galloping down to the hospitals on Sundays too, prescribing medicines for the little ones – albeit they are the happiest lot.
Washed out after four sleepless nights in a row, two small kids exchanging the commotion, their father thousands of miles away, I can’t help but take temporary refuge in the memories of my childhood monsoons.
Years of freedom and joy
Nostalgia sweeps over me as the aromas of ‘moong dal khichri‘ and ‘aloo bhaja’ come floating down to me from years back. Those were the years of freedom and joy untainted by responsibility, worry and anxiety. The years of fun that had not the remotest idea of the years ahead that were to get full with tonnes of experience – the years that transformed that shy girl into a responsible mother of two.
The shy girl glowing with happiness when her school declared a holiday the day her hometown recorded the highest rainfall in ten years stares back at me, curious and probably apologetic for having no worries other than academics. She’ll go back home and spend away the day in company of Nancy Drews and Famous Fives. She’ll watch the rain pouring down and write a poem on it. She’ll have a dinner of ‘moong dal khichri‘ and ‘aloo bhaja‘.
The picture of a bare-bodied, little village boy, squatting under the roof of a makeshift hut, a bowl in his hand, his innocent eyes traveling far away across the miles of water surrounding him, the headlines of the newspaper reading loudly – ‘Marooned, only starch to drink’ – slowly comes up, as I wake up to reality. Ensconced in the comfort of a swanky home in the heart of the city, with almost everything within my reach, do I have the right to mope and wish I could the turn the clock back by more than twenty years?
The monsoon this time not only gave me respite from the intolerable summer heat, but also gifted me with freedom from my escapism, encouraging me to count my blessings, face difficulties boldly to tackle them head-on. And when the going gets very tough, I have my memories to give me company. ⊕