So far this has been a disappointing monsoon. Come June, I was looking forward to having a ringside view of the rains from my balcony.
I used to take my cue from Alexander Frater’s book Chasing the Monsoon which painstakingly charts the progress of the monsoon across India. Replete with anecdotes, the rains seem like a character in a novel of cosmic making. In like mien, the rain clouds of Kalidasa’s Sanskrit drama Meghdutam summon up their courage to bring tidings from the lover to the beloved.
But the season of life-giving rain seems abbreviated, or is often a non-starter in Goa. Despite optimistic pronouncements of good rainfall in other parts of India, and floods too in low lying areas, the rains in Goa seem to have missed the bus as I write. One day it rains, the next day it is sunny to the point of being oppressively hot.
We are looking at climate change as never before. Rampant hill cutting and ravaging of trees are taking their toll. In the guise of development we are savagely denuding nature’s bounty. Will our children forgive us?
More and more of our streams are contaminated. Water sources of wells are polluted with mining effluents. What used to be Rs. 10 for a bottle of drinking water has climbed to Rs. 20 in just a few years for the same quantity.
Which is why I am not optimistic when I see the banners proclaiming the revelry of Sao João. In days to come they may need to manufacture artificial rain to celebrate the traditional feast.
The Purumentache fest, where people stock up for the rains, is becoming a dying tradition. The items are available all the year round, and it really doesn’t rain that much anymore.
Those cosy evenings when the family would sit at home, and enjoy the thunder and lightning of the rain outside seem few and far between. Indoor games like carom and chess and cards would create a sense of bonding fuelled by laughter, anecdotes and the customary urak.
One even looks a bit silly carrying an umbrella nowadays in the bright sunshine. Today past midday, in bright sunshine I saw a gent sitting in a bus shelter with a black umbrella opened wide above him. I did not discern his drift but it was an apt image to sum up the times.
Earlier from the feast of St. Anthony to the feast of St. John the Baptist Goa would experience torrential rain. Now people would have to search for water to jump into the well.
A way of life is slowly dying. Seasonal variations have altered our cultural practices. We have only received 4% of required rainfall so far.
So I can sit with my xitt and sukhi sungtachi koddi. But I want to hear the frogs croak in unison; the rain patter on my window pane; and the windshield wipers working furiously to stave off the incessant rain.
For Goa in the rains is a blessing to behold.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez, Goa on 25 June 2017. Pic courtesy indicportal.org