Monsoon memories and beyond

Nivedita Ghosh

Contributing Writer

Small droplets of water sparkling like diamonds on leaves. The strong, therapeutic smell of wet soil. A cool breeze. These are some of the defining elements of the rainy season stored in my treasure trove of memories. The recent historic rainfall in San Francisco brought back these poignant flashbacks, and I could not help but go back to my old routine on rainy days. I sat by the window with a cup of tea and some snacks while the rain splashed against the windowpane, forming a gray-tinted picture of swaying trees and drenched ground. 

Weather conditions, directly or indirectly, influence our lives profoundly and also decide the course of our daily lives. This influence brings ups and downs for everyone, and it’s these weather conditions that keep us connected to nature and motivate us to maintain a harmonious balance with it as much as possible.

GRAPHIC BY SABRINA LABADLABAD/GRAPHICS CENTER

Back in high school, rainy days were filled with jumping in water puddles, getting our uniforms dirty with mud splashes, and making paper boats and floating them in the puddles. They were all fun-filled experiences, touched with childhood enthusiasm. Rains were always a relief as hot weather was dominant in Kolkata, a city in West Bengal where I lived, and the heavy downpour brought the much-needed relief from the sweltering heat. The cool breeze and low temperature after the downpour was much more soothing than sitting in a room with an air conditioner.

Besides the natural elements of the monsoons, my rainy day memories are also filled with literature, music, and art. During heavy rain and thunderstorms, we often had power outages, and the entire household would plunge into darkness. Immediately, my mother or grandmother lit candles, and we all huddled around with bowls of rice crispies and fried snacks in our hands, marking the beginning of a long session of conversations which we call “Adda” in Bengali. 

The main attraction of the event were my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and parents narrating ghost stories while me and my cousins shivered in fear and excitement, not letting them pause even at the scariest parts. Apart from stories, we also had musical sessions where everyone sang their favorite songs or recited their favorite poems. Rainy days gave us an opportunity to come together as a family and everyone would pause their duties to sit down and relax together. The recent downpour gave me an opportunity to relive all these memories.

But all that glitters is not gold. Though the rains are soothing, they also come with destruction. Flash floods, landslides, and cyclones are just a few natural disasters that cause havoc and destroy many houses and lives. The memories of some very destructive cyclones are still fresh in my mind as I remember how they raged through my city, causing torrential rain for two or more consecutive days. With climate change becoming more prominent day by day, I cannot help but feel worried about how natural forces are becoming more destructive than ever. 

For instance, the recent flash floods in Germany clearly show how too much intervention in the natural ecosystem is making innocent lives pay a hefty price with destroyed houses and lost lives. Hence, if we all don’t come together to protect our ecosystem in which we live in synchrony with nature, very soon memories of jumping into puddles for fun might turn unimaginable.

Weather conditions closely mirror our lives, and each season – summer, rain, winter, fall, spring – closely resemble our moods. For instance, all of us have a rich harvest of success in our lives at some point just like the season of spring and a state of sorrow, loss, or stagnation like the winter season. The interpretation of each weather condition can be different for everyone. For some, summer can be a season of joy (especially in the West), while the same summer can be a source of pain, especially in tropical countries. It varies from person to person and yet unites us because we experience these weather conditions anywhere and everywhere. Weather conditions inspire us and sometimes devastate us. But in the end, they keep us rooted to the earth. 

Today we are living in an era characterised by climatic flux more than ever. Governments are holding climate summits (the ongoing COP26 summit) and making elaborate promises about plans to reduce climate change. But the beginning has to happen at the grass root level. Every citizen should make an effort to help protect the environment. Very small steps such as avoiding littering, not keeping the water tap open unnecessarily, and planting a tree in the backyard can be easily done. Every small step counts toward a greener environment and will help many like me to preserve monsoon memories.

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