A Monsoon Diary

by Julian Crandall Hollick
page 7

The man's attitude is a little different:"The kohl-black clouds came rushing in. The peacocks screamed: the frogs croaked; the earth was tense, just about out of patience, holding its breath. Scratching herself with a back-scratcher, my pious sister-in-law declared:

"There will be a storms. The clouds will get to go wherever they want. You'll have all the fun. You'll walk in the sand at the edge of the river. With quivering lips and shining eyes, rain-showers will cool your body. That promiscuous east wind will caress you, make love to you. And the clouds will fawn over you, chase you with all the ardour of a father who suddenly sees a potential husband for his unmarried daughter. Oh yes! You'll have all the fun, my pleasure-loving brother-in-law!"

I burst into laughter. The peacocks cried. I got goose bumps all over. The frogs started croaking, and my heart began to pound. The crickets began their shrill electric trill. I was on fire. And all the time, the black clouds came crowding in. More, and more, and more!!"

Each "more" rising a degree, ever upwards, ever more fevered, like the cries of the Megh Papia" or "Brain-fever bird," which is said to precede the coming of the monsoon by a few days, blown in across the Arabian Sea by the accelerating winds. I have never seen this bird, only ever heard it in tall trees a hundred yards or more away. Khushwant Singh, who is also an amateur ornithologist, knows a lot about these birds: "They don't make their own nests. They're parasites. They steal other birds' nests and lay their eggs in them. This megh papiha - the pied-created cuckoo - uses the nest of these babblers to offload their bastard offspring, leave their eggs; hence being cuckolded. They are also very noisy. The English have done him some injustice by calling him the "brain fever" bird. Well, once it gets into your head you also think it's calling brain fever. But it's not. The Maharastran rendering of the cry is paus ala, which means the rains are coming."



Diary Pages:

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