Sunday 10 June 2012

Short Story 2012 Longlist, Sharmila Sinha

That Rainy Day

Something woke me that morning. A lovely fragrance. Oh! Oh! Rains. It’s raining. The first day of rains since we have come to stay with Nani in her village Chilbil. The huge mud house smelt magnificent as it gradually started to pour. The trees were washed off their dust and sparkled green. I was standing near the window of my room on the first floor and watching the rain slowly gather speed. First it was the pitter patter and then came the water pouring – as if the heavens had let out all its happiness on the land. Never seen anything like this in the city where we live.

Minnie get up. See you’ve never seen something like this. Come here. I shouted excitedly. My little sister jumped out of the bed and rushed to the window rubbing her eyes. Both of us stood near the window and watched everything in awe. We could see the paddy fields swaying as if dancing to the call of the heavens. Dill our dog came barking in the room and joined us. The pouring rain on the hot parched earth had soothed the animals. We could hear the cattle bellowing to herald the rain.     
Both of us went running down the polished spiral wooden stairs barefoot. ‘Mamma can we go out to play in this rain just like we do in the snow.” I yelled.

Mamma nodded and smiled.
Yippe shouted Minni. The Rain was falling with great force and fury on the clay tiles on the roof of the verandah. And streams of water could be seen pouring down. Mamma extended her hand and collected some water in her palm and splashed it on us. All of us laughed.
Oh! Great yelled Minni and rushed out under the open sky. I too followed her. Dill followed. Kali the spotted goat kid came jumping. 

What fun Kali said Minni. A drenched crow came and sat on the swing tied to the Neem tree nearby. Dill ran to catch it. The crow fluttered away noisily.
Dill don’t be naughty. I shouted trying to catch the wet dog by its tail. But Dill barked and ran away. The soaked sparrows sitting on the arms of the neem tree wobbled up and down excitedly. Opening, their wings and chirping and chattering.
Mithoo Nani’s pet parrot screeched in glee. The cage hanging on one of the lower branches of the tree was swinging in the breeze. She was fluttering inside the cage.
She cried out Minni Minni. 

Minni ran and opened the cage. Mithoo craned her neck out but soon retreated inside seeing Dill and Kali charging. I pulled Mithoo out of the cage and made her sit on my shoulder.
Whoff  Whoof barked Dill jumping up on the verandah. Shaking his wet head and spraying water all around. Kali too galloped round and round in the verandah bleating merrily.
Neroo Neroo raining said Mithoo in her gawky and harsh voice.
Everybody seemed to be enjoying the rain. 

I pulled Mamma standing in the verandah under the pouring rains. The three of us joined hands and went round and round playing like we did welcoming the first snowfall each year in our city. The three of us sat on the paved driveway of Nani’s house and could see the waters swirling around.
 Mithoo perched tightly on my shoulder too was enjoying our plays. She chirped Mamma Mamma. 
Lets make some paper boats said Mamma. And went inside to get some newspapers. Sitting on the verandah spreading our legs we made some boats. Now they needed to set sail. They were brought to the bay and set on their journey. The majestic boats sailed and sank like the Titanic. 

Lets go and sit on the swing saying this Minni ran and jumped on the swing. I too jumped and joined her. Mithoo fluttered and held my shirt collar tightly with her claws. We were swinging up up up …. To touch the sky. Rain splashed on my face and  Minnie’s long plait was flying in the strong breeze. This was sheer magic. This was fun. The rains refused to stop. And our spirit soared.

 Now we were feeling cold. Mud splattered and wet we ran inside the house. Mamma who had already changed to her dry clothes helped us with a nice scrub. And then sitting in the kitchen we all had hot chai flavoured with something that I had never tasted before. 

It tastes different I said.
Neeroo this tea has ginger and tulsi. And instead of sugar I have added jaggery. Said Nani extending a plateful of crispy hot pakoras.
Nani look my fingers look like yours said Minni showing her shriveled fingers. Nani smiled.
Nani yesterday you had told me it would rain today. How did you know? I asked
Nani smiled. ‘living in the village has taught us to be with nature. When the sparrows bathe in mud and the horizon has a bronze tainted colour then we know the rains have arrived.
I looked at Nani awestruck. 

Mamma understanding my amazement smiled and said, these are called eco indicators. And believe me they are any day better than the scientific predictions of the coming rains.
This was the bestest day of my life. I didn’t want to go back to my school in a country where they had no rains like this no green pastures, no Kali or Mithoo to play with. So many birds that we see here in this quaint village were only to be found in zoos in the country I live. 

Why can’t Nani come with us. Said Minni. Looking at Mamma.
My eyes welled with tears. Next day I knew we would be leaving –to be with Papa and another year in school.
But now I know for sure that I’ll be returning every summer to be with Nani in her beautiful village.                                      


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