An umbrella, as everyone knows, is everyone’s most precious possession when the rains descend in Goa. Last June I enjoyed the season with my trusty black umbrella with a brown wooden handle curved like a question mark. I had specially chosen it for the grip which served me well on those blustery days when it was all you could hold on to.
The brown-handled umbrella was bought last year, because the year before that my umbrella had walked off one evening. I had kept it outside the shop when I went in to buy some provisions. When I returned it was gone. Miffed by my fate I decided to outlast the rest of the season without one.
It’s losing time again this year for me, as it’s that time of the year that my umbrella seeks greener pastures. After carrying it unfailingly on days when the sun shone ever so brightly, it disappeared on the day of the most torrential rain, so far, in Goa, i.e. 24thJuly. No it was not drying in the bathroom, it was not hanging sheepishly on the window latch near my desk, and it wasn’t in my car. My umbrella had done it again!
After feeling defeated, I told myself life does not stop if something or someone walks out on you. ‘It was not meant to be yours,’ I reasoned. I thought back to the time when I felt so blue losing a shopping bag on a trip to the market. But time heals all things.
But I had to still get through the next day when it was pouring. How do I take baba from the car to his class when I reach him to school? Queenie suggested I borrow the umbrella of the Nepali watchman at the gate when I enter the school grounds. When I reached the watchman was standing holding an umbrella with a friend who was also holding one. I beseeched him to lend his umbrella. He demurred at first pointing out that there were only two umbrellas between the two of them. I said they could share one umbrella – after all what are friends for anyway? He parted with his umbrella somewhat reluctantly. I reached baba to school and returned the umbrella gratefully to the watchman on my way back.
During the day I borrowed an umbrella from a quiet lady who sits all morning in a cooperative store. I asked her when she closes the shop. She spoke in Konkani and told me ‘1.30.’ I returned it before that around midday.
Last evening I had gone over to a neighbour’s place. As I left it started pouring. ‘Take this’ she said kindly, ‘This is not ordinary rain.’ I promised I would return it the next morning.
Not having an umbrella has enabled me to see how people move out of their comfort zones to help others in need. It redeems my faith in humanity. Who wants to buy an umbrella anyway? Let’s dodge the rains!
Published in Gomantak Times, Weekender, St. Inez. Goa on 2 August 2015; pix courtesy fiveprime.org