It’s raining today. Dark clouds gathered above my bedroom window, droplets of rain that gently tapped on the glass panes now turned into pellets that scream as they attempt to break in. I can hear the wind rush through the leaves of the mango tree outside, and I watch little mangoes that were ripe with expectations to become ripe fall to the ground, unable to weather the strength of nature. Memories swirl inside me. Rainy days always do.
This is pretty. I sit by the window feeling the drizzle on my face. The skies scare me, but the warmth of the blanket and the teddy bears is consoling. I tell them not to worry. That I am here. Rain cannot hurt them. Ayya says he made paper boats and floated them along the waterways that run through the garden. I want to do that too. Except I don’t know how to make one. And Ayya isn’t home. I miss him. But rain distracts me. I wonder how it feels on my skin. I’ve never felt it. I extend my hand outside the window. As far as it would go. Not that far. My chubby toddler arm is not long enough to reach the edge of the patio. Ammi screams. I am not supposed to be sitting by an open window watching the rain. I will catch a cold of a lifetime, she says. She promptly closes and locks the window. I sit still, unable to feel the refreshing breeze on my face. Sad. Watching the rain fall.
I would be dead once Ammi finds out. As is usual on rainy days, I would not have been allowed to come to school had it not been for the assessment. Now that I am here, though, and waiting for after-school classes with the rest of the class, nothing can stop me from running off into the rain. Playing tag with all the others while the sky roars with laughter until buckets of joyous tears fall from its face. We dance around, shrieking. Jumping into pools of muddy water. Chasing each other around. My uniform stuck to my body. No matter. It’s not as if there is anything to see anyway. I grin. This is the best moment of my young life.
You are going to get it when your mother sees you, something in me warns. Ah, but the rain is joyous. It allows me to forget all my worries as I stand under the open skies, soaking in the freedom of raindrops on my face.
Sitting by a gurgling stream atop a mountain, one of the many that I have come to love, I look at my SO. Looks like it’s going to rain, I say. He agrees. What shall we do? I try to keep the panic out of my voice. What is there to do, he laughs, We’ll walk in the rain. So easy for him to say. Twenty years of conditioning has me terrified, yet weirdly attracted to this new experience. Okay. I smile.
We walk. And the heavens start pouring. The wind beats at me mercilessly, not having a single tree to serve as a windbreak. The rain drops hurt, but I don’t really feel the pain. I am stunned that I am standing here atop a mountain, getting soaked to the bones while thunder and lightning play tag on the gray skies. Since when have I been this unafraid? How did I go from being the girl who had to stay at home if it drizzles to the girl who walks down a mountain in pouring rain? The cold gets to me, though, but it is exhilarating. I suppress my mirth and glance at my SO, who is relishing in the rain. Nothing new for him, I realize. I grin. This is so cool, I say, resorting to teenage vocabulary in an attempt to verbalize the freedom I am experiencing. He grins back at me. Rain is always that, he leans in for a kiss. I huddle closer to him, scared – for a moment – as the stories I have been repeatedly told of perils of rain try to overwhelm me. No, I tell myself. Even if they are true, it is too late to do anything about it now. I break into a run down the slope and whoop into the air. No matter how loud I scream, how long I scream, it cannot express the feelings inside me. Liberation. Rain on my face. Rain in my hair. Rain on my clothes, and I don’t have to care. Carefree. Free. Alive.
Typing away on the laptop now, from the comforts of my bed, with Wilfred Owen on one side, and Pablo Neruda on the other, I cannot help but smile. Thirty-Four. I think. Wonder how that will be.