The First Rain


The first rain reminds me
of the rising summer dust. 

I’m waiting at the gate for K who’s five minutes away. Suede shoes, denims and a bright canary yellow top. Everything wholly inappropriate for the weather but I don’t know that yet. The fruit seller whose cart is parked next to the gate calls out to me “No jamuns for you today?” On my way back, I promise Chacha.  Across the street, there are no trains chugging into the East Railway Station. Autorickshaws stand pretty in a row their drivers snoozing in the back seats, their bodies contorted to fit in. Cacophony of honks: someone’s going the wrong way on a one-way. The traffic is in a mad rush to get nowhere. I can feel a fine mist on my hands and now cheeks. I can smell the rain, the parched earth. 


soon you will again wear your harnesses,
beautiful and embroidered, to hold
sheer stockings: you
Mare and harnesser in one body.

Someone pulls into the parking space outside The House. I don’t recognize the brand, the car or the people. The lady is dressed in an apple red top and white trousers and is pointing at The House and waving her arms. The man has a bluetooth earpiece. She’s talking to him, she’s  not expecting a response, he’s hearing her, he’s not listening to her. The lady looks me head to toe then walks into the building. Me, dismissed.


the rain doesn’t remember the rain of yesteryear.
a year is a trained beast with no memories.

The raindrops are not fine mist anymore. Big and bulbous, they are splotching down on the walkway. They now look like squashed bugs near my feet. They rattle the Mangalore tiles above my head. I’m wearing suede shoes. Again. The plants are now glistening. The road’s awash in sparkles that quickly turn into little streams. Two women wearing burqas walk by struggling with their upturned umbrellas. One tries to wrap her billowing burqa tight around herself, the other walks to the fruit seller who’s selling cherries, jamuns, lychees and mangosteen under his pink and blue umbrella. Chacha’s umbrella is flapping in the wind, it’s dripping water. He’s shivering under the tree. His crocheted prayer cap must be drenched stiff. The rain is now lashing at me from all sides. 


the white panic of soft flesh
in the panic of a sudden vision
of ancient saints.

K is not going to be here in five minutes. I walk back home. Amudha is brewing ginger tea, the spicy fragrance is everywhere. P. Sainath’s Everybody Loves a Good Drought would be such an apt read, I think to myself and chuckle. I choose Alice Walker’s The Color Purple on the Kindle instead. I’m craving for pakoras and samosas and aloo tikkis and kachoris. I remember the reading on the weighing scale. The shoes are stained brown, the canary yellow of the top has darkened to yellow of a ripened mango, the hair’s frizzy. 

The first rains of the monsoon have finally arrived in Richard’s Town. 


Words in italics from The First Rain by Yehuda Amichai