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Deluge and Dearth

August 20, 2009

It looked like it will rain. Dark clouds hung heavily in the sky. It was getting darker for 5 in the evening. People were busy with whatever they were doing. The traffic was stuck in jam. People looked like they were in a hurry. I loaded my auto-rickshaw with 4 heavy bags. I was already panting and sweating. I was moving into a new house. A new place.

Hyderabad, with not a single decent rain so far in this season and experts already predicting a very-dry summer, was humid. All the accumulation of dark clouds overhead could come to nothing. We have seen the whole rainy season coming to an end. Only dark clouds, no rain. Only build-up, no business. I signalled the driver to get going. I had no more business in this place. I was leaving my home that was for almost 7 years now.
I was passing along the hotel where I used to eat Biryani. I could smell spices in the air. The waiter stood out watching the street dreamily. It was too early for customers. We recognise but don’t wave at each other. We usually don’t. I wouldn’t return to this hotel again. I pass by other shops along the street. The traffic is moving very slowly and I get to stop before each place of any significance to me. There was this bus stop where we friends would sit idly in the nights. Till late nights. The tea-stalls made business. Now it was filled with people. Strange people. I turn my head away only to see the other hotel where I used to get meals for lesser price. When I was not having Biryani, I was eating here. The waiter here was used to not waiting for me to ask for a boiled egg while having meals. He got it always before asking. There was this tacit understanding between us like any two long-time associated parties; like they know each other well enough; like in a long successful marriage, both were content with silent acknowledgements.

To my surprise, I was humming a tune that I had heard at my friend’s desk in office the previous day. It was a kannada song. Kannada song and me! I don’t even know the language. But I was humming only the tune. La la la la la laa laa laa, laa la laa la. It was from a movie ‘Mungaru Male‘(Monsoon Rain). The tune was catchy but sad. I didn’t want to continue with it. I pressed my lips tightly and looked around me grimly. I can now see the house where I first stayed as a paying-guest in hyderabad. After having stayed there for 2.5 years, I had moved to a different house. Those were my college days. I could see in my mind a more younger me with a bag strapped to the right shoulder walking briskly with head bent down, lost in education, heading to this house after a strenuous day in the college. It wasn’t long back in time. I could see everything. I involuntarily began on the sad tune. With lips pressed tightly, the tune was playing in the nasal chamber. My eyes filled and I turned away. There were too many places around, each with its own history. Too many memories around. I may visit these places again but I will be a mere visitor then. No more privy to it.
Baarish aana saab. Is baar khatre-khatre ku tarseenge apun logan‘, says the auto-rickshaw driver. I didn’t want to reply. Such conversations usually prolong. I merely said, ‘Aaj to badal hai, hogi baarish‘. He diverted the topic to the traffic now. ‘Upar se yeh traffic, dum-dum ho jara. Kilutch, birake, kilutch, birake pakad pakad ke yeh haath dukra dekho!‘ He looked at me through the rear-view mirror. He had kajal in his eyes and his grey hair was dyed red with mehendi.
Arrere, aisa!‘, I say. Was I grateful to turn my attention from my painful memories? But I was also becoming aware of another approaching site, the temple that we will pass by and of the deluge of memories that it will bring to me. Those were the days! Early morning cold water baths, visits to the temple, and Irani chai in the Niloufer hotel. Those were the days. And to think of it, my monthly allowance was never more than 200/-. How content we were with smaller pleasures! I remember how Susanta, Mahidhar, and I had walked to this temple at 12:30 on the night when I came to know I was selected in the job interview. We were so thrilled. We looked inside the temple through the closed gates with thankful eyes. We walked hand-in-hand on this street dreaming big. We decided that we will leave the paying-guest accommodation and rent up a bigger house for 3 of us.
I didn’t want to cry and so I prodded the driver. ‘Kya traffic hai bhai; Insaanan kaisa rah sakte aisa!‘. He readily began, ‘kya bolna saab hyderabad mein gaadiyan badh gaye, sab ke paas paisa aa gaya. Jagah utthich hai, logan paida hore. Ab dekho kya hota!‘ He was waving a hello to a fellow auto-rickshaw driver and spitting a mouthful of pan juice all the same time. I was wary of fingering him again. But I had to talk. Or else this place, the memories, the tune will engulf me. I pick the phone and call Arathi. Is she asleep? Why doesn’t she pick her phone? She wasn’t feeling well this morning. I knew I could call someone else but I restrain. Once again I turn my attention to the auto-driver. But he began, ‘Roadan dekhre saab, sathrol hai, municipality waale khodke chale jaate. Zarra pani pada boleto jidhar ki public udharich jaam.‘ It was my turn now. Careful enough not to betray him my state of mind, I wiped my tears and coughed slightly to clear my throat and said conclusively, ‘pilanning nahi hai!‘.
Sahi bole saab, pani padteich logan keede-makodon ki tarah nikalte. Talaab kane maindak nikalte dekho, waisa!
I was avoiding my memories like a can of worms, and here he was describing them.

It looked like it will rain. Dark clouds hung heavily in the sky. It was getting darker for 5 in the evening. People were busy with whatever they were doing. The traffic was stuck in jam. People looked like they were in a hurry. I loaded my auto-rickshaw with 4 heavy bags. I was already panting and sweating. I was moving into a new house. A new place. Hyderabad, with not a single decent rain so far in this season and experts already predicting a very-dry summer, was humid. All the accumulation of dark clouds overhead could come to nothing. We have seen the whole rainy season coming to an end. Only dark clouds, no rain. Only build-up, no business. I signalled the driver to get going. I had no more business in this place. I was leaving my home that was for almost 7 years now.
I was passing along the hotel where I used to eat Biryani. I could smell spices in the air. The waiter stood out watching the street dreamily. It was too early for customers. We recognise but don’t wave at each other. We usually don’t. I wouldn’t return to this hotel again. I pass by other shops along the street. The traffic is moving very slowly and I get to stop before each place of any significance to me. There was this bus stop where we friends would sit idly in the nights. Till late nights. The tea-stalls made business. Now it was filled with people. Strange people. I turn my head away only to see the other hotel where I used to get meals for lesser price. When I was not having Biryani, I was eating here. The waiter here was used to not waiting for me to ask for a boiled egg while having meals. He got it always before asking. There was this tacit understanding between us like any two long-time associated parties; like they know each other well enough; like in a long successful marriage, both were content with silent acknowledgements. To my surprise, I was humming a tune that I had heard at my friend’s desk in office the previous day. It was a kannada song. Kannada song and me! I don’t even know the language. But I was humming only the tune. La la la la la laa laa laa, laa la laa la. It was from a movie ‘Mungaru Male'(Monsoon Rain). The tune was catchy but sad. I didn’t want to continue with it. I pressed my lips tightly and looked around me grimly. I can now see the house where I first stayed as a paying-guest in hyderabad. After having stayed there for 2.5 years, I had moved to a different house. Those were my college days. I could see in my mind a more younger me with a bag strapped to the right shoulder walking briskly with head bent down, lost in education, heading to this house after a strenuous day in the college. It wasn’t long back in time. I could see everything. I involuntarily began on the sad tune. With lips pressed tightly, the tune was playing in the nasal chamber. My eyes filled and I turned away. There were too many places around, each with its own history. Too many memories around. I may visit these places again but I will be a mere visitor then. No more privy to it.
‘Baarish aana saab. Is baar khatre-khatre ku tarseenge apun logan’,’says the auto-rickshaw driver. I didn’t want to reply. Such conversations usually prolong. I merely said, ‘Aaj to badal hai, hogi baarish’. He diverted the topic to the traffic now. ‘Upar se yeh traffic, dum-dum ho jara. Kilutch, birake, kilutch, birake pakad pakad ke yeh haath dukra dekho!’ He looked at me through the rear-view mirror. He had kajal in his eyes and his grey hair was dyed red with mehendi.
‘Arrere, aisa!’, I say. Was I grateful to turn my attention from my painful memories? But I was also becoming aware of another approaching site, the temple that we will pass by and of the fresh surge of memories that will bring to me. Those were the days! Early morning cold water baths, visits to the temple, and Irani chai in the Niloufer hotel. Those were the days. And to think of it, my monthly allowance was never more than 200/-. How content we were with smaller pleasures! I remember how Susanta, Mahidhar, and I had walked to this temple at 12:30 on the night when I came to know I was selected in the job interview. We were so thrilled. We looked inside the temple through the closed gates with thankful eyes. We walked hand-in-hand on this street dreaming big. We decided that we will leave the paying-guest accommodation and rent up a bigger house for 3 of us.
I didn’t want to cry and so I prodded the driver. ‘Kya traffic hai bhai; Insaanan kaisa rah sakte aisa!’. He readily began, ‘kya bolna saab hyderabad mein gaadiyan badh gaye, sab ke paas paisa aa gaya. Jagah utthich hai, logan paida hore. Ab dekho kya hota!’ He was waving a hello to a fellow auto-rickshaw driver and spitting a mouthful of pan juice all the same time. I was wary of fingering him again. But I had to talk. Or else this place, the memories, the tune will engulf me. I pick the phone and call Arathi. Is she asleep? Why doesn’t she pick her phone? She wasn’t feeling well this morning. I knew I could call someone else but I restrain. Once again I turn my attention to the auto-driver. But he began, ‘Roadan dekhre saab, sathrol hai, municipality waale khodke chale jaate. Zarra pani pada boleto jidhar ki public udharich jaam.’ It was my turn now. Careful enough not to betray him my state of mind, I wiped my tears and coughed slightly to clear my throat and said conclusively, ‘pilanning nahi hai!’.
‘Sahi bole saab, pani padteich logan keede-makodon ki tarah nikalte. Talaab kane maindak nikalte dekho, waisa!’
I was avoiding my memories like a can of worms, and here he was describing them.
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