A Monsoon Diary

by Julian Crandall Hollick
page 9

June 27th: Wake up around 9. Lovely blue Spring sky, fair-weather clouds racing across from left to right. And the air is fresh and cool. This afternoon a lovely little Spring shower. No more than fifteen minutes. But all the kids, and quite a few grownups, are outside and getting soaked. Boys and girls throw mud pies and splash each other. Everyone is having fun. Even the grownups! One woman tells me that in the 1930s she did exactly the same thing: "I can remember I and my sisters used to just rush out when the rains broke. We used to love to get soaked. And our parents actually encouraged us. They said that rains were good for children's health, especially the first rains."         
Radhika Bushan - a singer of ghazals positively radiating joy. The rain has stirred her creative juices. "It gives me a lot of pleasure to see the rain. It makes me sing. When it starts raining I start singing. As simple as that. I mean, I feel very thrilled. There is a lot of joy within you!"

"What about the smell of the first rains?" Ecstasy, both male and female. "Oh, its exotic smell!... When the rain first falls on the earth it's a very earthy, earthy smell which you just breathe in and it sort of rejuvenates and refreshes you."..."and then when the monsoon came, first rains, they smell of the mud, the smell of the land. The ground is so intoxicating. Even at the age of five or six I used to get totally intoxicated. I used to become so romantic. Even now, I feel a thrill going through my body when I remember it" More prosaically, "It is basically the smell of very clean water falling on very dry earth. And the scent that comes out is very difficult to describe, because it is not musky like most Indian perfumes are. It is fresh, very fresh, and it has a lovely earthy quality combined with this feeling of green wet grass. I think t is just possibly one of the best things about living in India is that scent"

Many years ago, in the market in Lucknow I once bought a tiny bottle of the essence of wet earth. Occasionally, when I feel very nostalgic, I take it down, pull out the glass stopper, breathe in deeply, and then put it back up on the shelf.

July 3rd: One storm, two showers. Not bad. But not exactly the Monsoon! Still, everyone seems happier. Even the animals. This afternoon, I saw a peacock dancing in a field near Bhitthur, hopping to the rhythms of some inner music. And everywhere, the farmers are out in full force, ploughing and sowing. On the road to Bhittur we stop the car to talk with Puthan, who's driving his two oxen up and round an acre field, clucking to them to encourage them to keep a constant rhythm. This isn't Puthan's land. He's a sharecropper who farms other people's land: he gets half the crop. No comparison with last year, so far!

"Last year, when we sowed wheat, there was too much of rain, and we got wiped out because of that. We require rainfall that's moderate and spread out evenly over a period of time. If there is too heavy showers consecutively, then they do us a lot of damages. And if the monsoon is late, then our output is not as good, and we are not able to earn that much from that output."
"Has it come on time this year?"
"This is the perfect time for the monsoon to start."
"Provided it keeps raining on steadily?"
"Yes, well, we should expect an excellent crop if the monsoon goes on like this. This is perfect so far, absolutely perfect!"

Diary Pages:

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