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Where have the rains gone?

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar  

In India, rains have traditionally been an integral part of life. Our economy, history and culture have been regularly swept by periodic episodes of rain and flood, as also drought. The monsoon patterns have determined to a large extent our planning, leisure events and celebrations.

Sitting on the balcony and enjoying the drizzle outside, I kept wondering how unpredictable rains today have become. Even towards the end of June, we were still awaiting the ‘burst’ of monsoon that we had all read in geography lessons as happening at the beginning of June in my part of the country.

The rainy season used to be so predictable even just 10 to 15 years ago. Our parents and grandparents could even predict different rain episodes, each with a different name. In the present day, even with so much advancement in technology and the study of phenomena that are spread across the world, such as El Nino and La Nina, the predictions are often going awry.

The months of June and July used to be months of intense rain in several regions. The monsoon would spread its force all around us and we would limit our activities indoors. Our hostel dormitories would look nothing less than wet bathrooms. Our clothes would never dry and the house entrances would get flooded with water. There was no way we could escape getting wet whenever we ventured outside even briefly.

Usually, rain made sure there was no play-time in the evening hours. Sometimes, football was the only game where rain was welcome. The thrill of playing football in the rain was something to remember and cherish.

We would walk to the hostel dining hall, two to three squeezed under an umbrella, wet and shivering. Snails and millipedes were our regular visitors. The only consolation was a brief forced holiday for our physical education teacher; he would not come and wake us up at 5-30 for jogging and exercise sessions.

The entire ambience would change, and the town would be nearly deserted when it rained, and it would be the ‘calm after the storm’ once it stopped. The dripping drops from the trees, the gurgling sound in the drains, and the ground with multiple mini-lakes, made a return to normal difficult for quite some time.

But nevertheless, I feel nostalgic when I remember those rainy days. It had its moments. That cozy sleep under the blanket, the love of walking in the rain under an umbrella, the happiness of playing in the rain, the sipping of hot coffee and homemade jackfruit chips, were all enthralling enough.

It’s scary that within a span of ten years we are seeing so much of climate change. The intensity of the rain we saw once is no more there. Either there is a shortfall, or there is a flood affecting millions of lives.

Our dreams for a better life have turned into greed for more and it has ended up disrupting the very livelihood of our own people. No chants, no prayers, no marriage of frogs can bring back the bygone days of plenty.

We may well be descending to our doom, not waking up from the sleep of ignorance, assuming that climate change is a myth!

ashokbbalakrishna@gmail.com

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 6:19:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/where-have-the-rains-gone/article28306837.ece

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