Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nostalgic rain..

Herman Melville, in his perhaps the most famous piece of literature, Moby Dick, says that every human being desires the Ocean and wants to get as close to the Sea as possible without getting the feet wet. I feel the similar thing about the first rain, the rain that comes after the earth is left in scorching heat for months in a row. Every living creature desires the rain then and not only to watch it from as close as possible, but to get drenched in it. Every person has some memories assigned to the first rain, may it be time spent with family or friends or a nice cup of tea they had while enjoying the rain or maybe a game of football they played as kids, soaking wet. These memories come flourishing back with first rains every year and that is why everyone craves for it so much. It's the nostalgia and it's very hard to ignore it.
So after being in the scorching heat in this part of the world, I started dreaming about rain and the scent it carries with it. Huong decided to stay back in the hotel to mend to the sub burns he got the previous day, but me and Yu-shin were keen on going to the water for a swim. And once again, as Herman Melville wrote that "let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries--stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water", our feet carried us to an island and then to the calm waters on the other side, with white sand on the shore giving it a beach like feel. The walk was painful, the Sun was persistent and we were sweating to the core. The white sand that looks so beautiful in the pictures was hot as frying pan on the stove. Our flip flops weren't great help and it turned out to be a walk on burning coals. I looked hopefully at the sky, looking for sign of rains, saying "how much hotter can it get!". But no signs of the dark clouds. It was a bright day as any. With a sigh, we continued the walk toward the water. The great Mekong is silent here, on the western edge of the island. The water is calm and the sun makes it really warm, making it perfect for a swim. We began where we had left the previous day, Yu-shin giving me tips about free stroke and how to improve my stamina and me managing to get more water in my lungs than the day before. The heat had taken its toll and my head was swimming more than I was, so I decided to practice no more and sat down in knee deep water. Yu-shin continued to show his skills in the water and swam like a fish for a long time. There was a loud thunder then and I looked up. Still no clouds. I started to think about the fighter planes and war that once raged in the country and then started to formulate plans in my mind if the war starts again. Where to hide? Where to run? Deep in my rescue planning, I didn't realise when did the weather change from scorching hot to pleasant and breezy. I closed my eyes and felt the breeze on my face. It was flowing from the west. Always a good sign! The coconut trees on the other side of the river were now swaying merrily and a large mass of dark cloud appeared on the western horizon. I didn't want to get my hopes too high, but I could smell the rain then. The breeze grew stronger and converted itself into wind. The river surface now had ripples, almost wave-like, each one trying to race each other to reach the shore. The water where I sat started to sway stronger and stronger, making me move with it. And the power of wind brought clouds closer and closer. We knew then that we were going to witness a splendid rain and so came out of the water and sat under the dark clouds, chewing on lotus seeds....watching. The south western shore of the river became fainter, almost as if someone had pulled a transparent curtain between us and that shore. The rain had arrived and it had brought that fresh smell I was so craving for. Yu-shin said "We are at perfect spot" and I agreed. We could almost feel the rain closing on us and soon it came down upon us with all its might. The temperature reduced significantly and we started to feel cold for a change. We retreated back to the warmer waters of Mekong and once again sat there, getting splashed on the face with huge rain drops. Millions of rain drops, now the size of a grape were lashing the river and bouncing off its surface, creating an illusion that the river was sending jets of water to the sky. It was an amazing sight.
I did not realise how long I sad there as nostalgia had taken over me. First rains of each monsoon during my lifetime flashing before my eyes. I could almost smell "Masala chai" that my dad makes so well or smell home made snacks that my mom cooks so well, specially during rainy season. It brought to my memory the puddles of water created due to potholes on the road and kids jumping in the puddles splashing water everywhere, shouting with joy. I could see the people smiling all around and relief on their faces that the first rain brings. Those smiles and those faces are care free.
A strong, cold wind made me shudder and I looked where Yu-shin sat, his face upwards and his eyes closed. He was too gripped by the same kind of nostalgia I guess. Some say that nostalgia is not good, or that it's denial of painful present. But I don't care. It makes you feel alive and as I mention, its really hard to ignore it!


  1. you write well my friend... you were in the wrong trade in life for a long time!