The moment a monsoon breeze blows, our lanes get flooded right up to the main road. The wayfarer’s shoes must carried over his head like his umbrella and it becomes clear that the inhabitants rank no higher in the struggle for existence than the amphibious beasts. I have grown grey watching the same sight from our balcony since my childhood….If I had written this or anyone else, it would have made no difference. But this was written none other than Rabindranath Tagore in “Kartar Ichchay Karma” in 1917. And the same story is very much true after 89 years. Kolkata is an old city, romantic and old.
Younger to many like Venice, but old in its ambience and philosophy. And old and reeking are its alleys and roads of North and South ends….they flood at the hint of monsoon and look like the Italian water-city when rain persists.
But Kolkata is changing, optimists say…bridges, highways, malls, complexes….actually it makes things even more complex for a complicated city structure that the metro has.
The city should have drained itself on the west and east sides, but that has been effectively blocked. The arterial cannal that curves through her like a waterline actually suffers from choking under a huge mash of waste. The wetlands are going dry and Kolkata holes up to take in monsoon.
When I was a boy I often let go paper boats from the balcony on the second floor that spun and danced about in the air as it drifted in the callow breeze to slowly settle on the water logged street below. Then a wait. One car…God please send one car…and God smiled sending a blue carrier that waved through the water and my boat set sail. Hurrah!!!
Ma…Ma…where are you? She is sleeping…and I slip down the stairs, those old ones, with bricks and morter peeping though the broken plaster, as you find in old homes in North Kolkata. I stand at the gate of the house, water lapping the final stair, a look up at the balcony…no one….Jump and for the next few minutes it was everything…rafting, kayaking, swimming and playing float ball with friends who have also escaped carefull eyes of their guardians. Nowadays, boys and girls don’t enjoy monsoon that often. Sad!!!
That girl…who came down to play with us one day….two plates and a yellow ribbons….blue skirt and blouse of the autumnal sky…she laughed like the breeze and flowed like the water….what is your name?….Varsha….she danced and sang as we all allowed the water to enter throiugh our pores….and then one day when monsoon was over…she went away in a big car…forever…wished the rains never stopped. Wish!!!!
Grown Up….all that changes…time becomes our tyrant tying us down to the post of duty… as you make a mad rush to reach office…jumping potholes, skipping driving cars, dodging through drains from umbrellas…red, blue, black, broken with one pane out and overturned….Jams, congestions, no police in sight and a madcity honks about in desperation…buses look like urban hell with bodies hinged form their seats melting in the hot humid condition as the windows shut down to avoid the downpour outside….monsoon is such a spoilsport… you think for a brief moment….God!!!
A cut back to the maidan in the evening….the lush green grass looking fresh and filled with life… a lamb skips about with his cousins and brother sisters as their mother looks on….two horses enjoy th drizzle muzzling into each other’s neck and tucking at each other’s hair….a rainbow appears all of a sudden as the billowy bossomed nimbus takes a leave after a smart shower…Wonderous Monsoon…thou art welcome in my pain!!!!