Not all of us grow with the same kinds of friends. Some of us had imaginary, absentee and perceived friendships. I had a seasonal one – with the rains. It might seem far fetched and fictional now, but it was quite real for me. All through my childhood and well into my adulthood.
A compulsive loner, there wasn’t much that I wanted to tell others. Tiptoeing around people and conversations had become a habit and I excelled with practice. However, talking was a primordial need. Being listened to may be seen as a social one, but talking can be done all by oneself.
Some may reason that there is no purpose of talking unless it’s human communication. But I am sure man started talking much before anyone could understand what he was saying, much before language evolved. People talk to their birds, dogs and even trees. They talk when they are alone. The only minor difference being you are spiritual when you talk to trees, but you would be considered lunatic if caught talking to yourself.
Rain solves all the above problems. You can talk alone, you can talk to the rain. If you go out alone, there is no one to see you or judge you. May be, that’s how it all began. The friendship, I mean.
Growing up in a village, we had all sorts of fun with the water. We will plead with an elder to make us paper boats while we raced them. We will build small bridges to direct the redirect the water, block the exit in the veranda to create shallow pools that we could all splash in. If you have ever seen raindrops fall from a thatched roof, you will understand why there is no better way to learn meditation.
When I moved to the city, Bhubaneswar, it was still a large village. There were large fields, overwhelming greenery and enough of opportunity to spend some time with the rains. By this time my mother had become frantic. She believed the rain was an excuse for the thunders to lure me out and strike me at the first chance it gets. I was old enough for the first signs of adult stubbornness and mother had developed a Nirupa Royish counterploy. Thus began a tussle that will last years and would eventually become a public spectacle.
Many times, as soon as the skies became dark, I will slip out of the house. I will preempt mother’s moves to stop me. It worked for a while. Then I was put under precautionary house arrest. The off chances when I still managed to hoodwink her, some neighbor would telephone her and inform that I was on the terrace, acting silly in the rain.
I was eventually set free when I moved to Delhi. The north campus and the university gardens were adequate enough for wet walks. A few months after the move, I had the first break up of my life. Aching and heartbroken, I needed the rains. It had never disappointed me before. But this was the first SOS that I was sending from the new city. What if the rain gods here were not so malleable?
Eventually, on the fourth day it rained. I put on my sweater and walked out at one in the night. For me, it was nothing short of a miracle. It had come for me. How else could it rain during the winters? Being from a coastal area, what did I know it was a regular occurrence in Delhi. My friends back in the hostel were shocked to see me all drenched in February rain, first sign that something was not right with the boy. While they threw around terms such as pneumonia etc, I confidently told them that no one gets sick from a rain bath.
With the years, my confidence has weakened a little. Rationality has grown, faith has quietly slipped into the corners. I don’t call out to the rains anymore. I don’t get all that wet. Along with my other beliefs, I may have lot my faith in this friendship now. One might catch a cold, you know.