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Music and magic of rain

The temperature in Palakkad district of Kerala is soaring high, but the heavy summer showers provided great relief. When the parched earth gets the first rain, there arises a smell. I don’t think there is anybody who doesn’t like the smell. And when the monsoon starts, the rain has no smell but only music and magic. Within days, the rain breathes new life to the summer-ravaged vegetation. The creepers and the thickets appear from nowhere. The trees and plants get renewed energy, foliage and beauty. What magic! With a sudden touch, the rain performs myriad wonders.

The frogs and the innumerable insects celebrate the rain with their never-ending orchestra. It seems that the croak of the frogs is the outstanding tune of this orchestra and the shrill sound of insects takes the next place. The rain has its own music and it inspires the frogs and other insects to come forth with theirs. The drizzling rain has its gentle, soft and slow-pitched music; the pouring rain has its brisk and fast-pitched music; the torrential rain has its fearful music and the sound of the accompanying wind, thunder and lightning makes it awesome.

Even if the torrential rain is fearsome, at night it is a lullaby which no other music can provide us. If there is pouring rain in the early morning, no child loves to arise and go to school. They love to lie lazily under the blanket and listen to the music of the rain.

In my childhood, we have had many spacious open places in our village. The most spacious of them were level plains or meadows, little hillocks and rocks full of palms and big mango trees and it was intermingled with clusters of bamboo. It used to be both our playground and the grazing ground of our cattle. The grassland was the habitat of many birds, including lapwings. To see this beautiful place at midnight against the background of a full moon and star-decked sky is an experience that can’t be described in words. The moonlight which falls on the palm leaves will make them silver-coated. The gentle breeze would help the leaves create a mesmerising music. No man-made music seemed to me as sweet as this music of the elements. The long shadows of the palm trees, the moonlit shade of the bamboo clusters, the occasional hooting of the owls, the sound their wings make when they fly, the howling of the foxes, and the chirping of the lapwings create a wonderful symphony that captivates us and helps, as Keats says in his immortal Ode to a Nightingale, to “leave the world unseen” and “fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget… the weariness, the fever, and the fret” of the human world where “to think is to be full of sorrow/And leaden-eyed despairs”.

And to see this place when it rains was also an ecstatic experience. The sound of the rain falling on the palm leaves, the swinging of the bamboos in the wind and its sound, the bowing down of the rain-drenched bamboo tops, and the clearly visible slanting raindrops all over the meadows used to captivate and thrill me.

One of the many wonders the rain used to perform in my village was to fill the fields with enough water to be ploughed for paddy transplantation. The ploughs would be tied to the yokes and when the pairs of oxen were made to move cutting open the fertile soil with the plough, there would prevail the smell of the soil which a farmer loves more than his life. Rain was the lifeblood of the farmer who loved paddy cultivation. And we the children were not afraid of the rain — whether it was drizzling or pouring. We used to play in the drizzle, in pouring rain and in the fearsome downpour with thunder and lightning. We were farmers’ children and the rain never made us sick.

Sustainable cultivation in my village was forced to give way to cash crops and real estate business. And our organic relationship with the soil, rain and Nature has been snapped. We don’t allow our children to play in the rain, because the rain will make them sick. In the past, the rain was a part of our life, now it is not.

Children today don’t see how paddy is sown, how it sprouts, how paddy stalks come out of the plants, how it is harvested, how it is threshed. They see the rice, but they don’t know from where it comes and how it comes. They only know that it is bought and they think anything can be bought if you have cash. They don’t know that we will be able to buy the rice only if somebody produces it, only if it is cultivated, only if there are farmers.

lscvsuku@gmail.com

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 9:15:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/music-and-magic-of-rain/article34289460.ece

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