“O hear!”

It was raining last night.

The English say “it was raining cats and dogs”

Why cats and dogs? I have never seen any cats or dogs falling from the sky. I only see rain.

But it was raining hard – real hard and accompanying thunder was deafening. I was sitting in our family room, reading Hesse’s Novel, Sidhartha. I like this book. I read it – way back – in 1983.  Recently when I was talking to my sister in Pakistan  she told me she was reading Sidhartha and getting confused. We talked about it and then decided I would read it again and then we would talk about it some more.  So I took out the book and started reading it.  Now I am  26/27 years older and -( ahem )- wiser than when I first read it. That wide eyed wonder has been replaced by a certain … well, lets leave it at that. I was not talking about this book in the first place anyways.

I was reading when I heard the first clap of thunder and then immediately after that it was rain, coming down with such force that I could feel the windows vibrating. I put down the book. Time to listen to the music and go back where time stands still and memories reside.

I love rain. It makes me – sometimes – melancholy. sad and nostalgic. Yes all that and some more and I love the feeling. I remember all those times when I got a few ‘thaprras’ from my mother for playing out in the rain and getting soaking wet. She strongly believed that there were two things that children get playing in the rain. One was head lice and the other was catching cold or some other horrid ailment. Oh well – thhaprra or no thhaprra – but how can one rein in free spirits with short memory spans ?

Then there were rains of Gujrat. Where every monsoon season, our courtyard would fill up with rain water causing a constant worry that if it didn’t stop raining, water would come into the house  and damage everything. Once our servant quarters were totally destroyed because of rains and flooding. I can still hear the dreadful sound of a falling roof. Luckily there was no one in the house. Our house boy and his family had gone to their village to attend some family wedding.

I don’t remember if it ever rained in Sialkot when we were living there. Oh no, wait. It did rain, though just a few big fat drops.  But because of this rain we – my sister and I – were checked out of one school and sent to another which was in the heart of the city’s main commercial area. Why were we taken out of this school is – in a way – quite funny.

One day coming home from school, all of a sudden these huge , fat and heavy drops of rain started falling.  Abdul Wadood, (called “hud hud”by children) our male house help, for outside chores,  holding the two of us by hand ran for shelter. There were a line of houses on the other side of the road. But to reach there one had to cross a sloping distance of a few yards.  Soon as we reached there, someone from the road shouted something. I don’t know what he said but there was horror on hud hud’s face and he again grabbed our hands and ran back doubly fast.

“oy tujhe pata nahin yeh buri ourton ke ghar hein? kurriyon ko le kar ja raha thha bewaqoof”(don’t you know women of ill-repute live there and you were taking these little girls there? stupid man.)

Hud hud hung his head on his chest and mumbled something. Only once he lifted his head and looked at the sky where a few clumps of sad looking clouds were floating in a very blue sky.

We reached home and excitedly gave the story to our mother.  With a grim face she told us to go get a bath and then come back for afternoon snack.

We never went back to that school. The new school was friendly. Teachers did not  wear  white long dresses and black head scarves and surely were not as fair and white as in the previous school but we were happy. Made new friends.

And then the rains in my beloved Wah. Where it rained in every season. Summer rains when we would sit out in the verandah and watch nature washing the summer heat and dust away. Giving a lovely shine and freshness to the flowers, the trees and the grass. And the lovely, exhilarating smell coming out of dry and thirsty earth. Happy and carefree laughter resonating, memories in the making … oh.

Spring rains, winter rains… All beautiful, all had a special feel, a pull that made you leave whatever you were doing and listen to it, hear what it says, feel the feel and savor it.

And most of all the rains falling deep into the night – rain, falling on the roofs, washing away the ‘dirt’, filling up the courtyards and keeping a young girl awake. Lying in her bed – lying still and acutely awake, thinking thoughts, hopes, aims, desires – future; where she was in no hurry to be.

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