A Monsoon Diary
Some of the poems are about Savyog or re-union, about the happiness of lovers who are lucky enough to be together, during the Rainy Season. Shahid Siddiqi in Delhi gets proverbially misty-eyed at the thoughts of love: "Rain is--Barsaat is my memory. Memory of my first love. Memory of my childhood. When I'm dying, I'm on my deathbed I remember one thing: that is Barsaat. And I remember the first tears which dropped from the eyes of my mother on my cheeks, when the first dewdrops from the lips of my beloved touch me, when I myself turn into drops of life and entered the body of my beloved... I remember Barsaat.... When I come to the fag end of my life and I want to live just in memories, beautiful and good memories, I remember, the only memories I can live with, survive with, and which gives me, which act as the nectar of life are the memories of Barsaat."
But does this highly charged imagery really have much to do with the reality of the Rainy Season today? Am I applying a Western preoccupation with sex to an alien (Indian) context? Some in Kanpur probably think so, but I didn't write those poems, evoke that imagery. I think the Monsoon is above all a female season, where Indian woman can dare to think forbidden thoughts, secret desires. Like Holi, they're indulged by society, as long as it rests at the level of imagery. And it may well be an upper class indulgence. For most people, the romance probably lasts a day or two, and then it becomes pretty monotonous. Maybe in ancient times, when people lived in forests and there were no large cities it might have been conducive to a little romance. But today, when most people live in cities like Kanpur or Mumbai it's a job just somehow getting out of your house and getting to the office across a flooded road!"
August 1st: On and off weather this past fortnight. First ten days - very spotty and very humid.
Then last week it's rained steadily and heavily. I went towards Bhitthur this morning, to visit Puthan the share- cropper, to see how he's making out. Puthan is a bit less happy than when we'd met a month before:
there's been plentiful rainfall since I met you last. Well, if we compare
ourselves to the rest of the farmers in Bhitthur we've certainly been at a
loss because our farms are predominantly at a lower level. So the water logging
is more intense here. And as a result of which our crop hasn't been so good.
I mean the other farms have produced better crops." I wondered if one
could have too much of a good thing? In other words, too much rain? Puthan
agreed this could indeed be a problem. "In that case, I mean, if we concentrate
on just one crop we might end up losing everything. So we have to distribute
our output in various things. For example, the cucumber and the lobia, that
we were in the process of sowing when we met you last, has, neither of them
have grown. They've just vanished. And we've had a loss on that score. So
we can't afford to put all our eggs in one basket."
That evening I'm invited by a family to a picnic in Bhitthur. It's pitch black. No electricity. Chhunar takes us out in his boat. It's cool and silent and the sky's pitch black because there's no moon, no stars because it's cloudy. When we come down river again, back to Bhitthur, Chhunar goes out into midstream and lets the boat just go along with the flow. Very breezy and very pleasant. The river stretches far into the distance, like a mirror in the dark landscape. Magical!