Rain, rain, come again! | Sunday Observer

Rain, rain, come again!

30 May, 2021

Most of us take water for granted. We think we will have enough water all the time. Especially on rainy days we see large amounts of water going to waste. Although most parts of the earth is covered with oceans full of water, we cannot drink or use it for domestic purposes. That means we need ‘usable’ water that we can drink and wash with and also to use to grow our food and help run our industries.

Apart from the use of water in our daily life, we have many experiences with rain, wells, streams, rivers and reservoirs. Most of us are closely acquainted with them. As I grew up in an area where water was scarce, I always welcomed rain. Of course, rain played havoc in the village. Although children in the cities ran for shelter during rain, village children ran out of their little huts to play in the rain. When roads were full of water knee-deep, we rowed our rafts made out of plantain(banana) trees. It was a wonderful experience.

Sometimes it started raining on school days. None of us had raincoats or umbrellas. Our parents used to cut a plantain leaf for us to cover our heads. When we went to school all of us were thoroughly drenched and our books were soaked in water. Teachers also came late on such days and not much teaching was done. When the school was over, we could not find our plantain leaves and we returned home drenched again. As we walked to and from school barefooted, there was no question of drying wet shoes.

The difference in city life

A rainy day in the city is quite different. Schoolchildren wear raincoats and some of them carry umbrellas. Some parents send their children in trishaws. Rich parents take their children in their cars and drop them at the school gate. Unlike village children, those living in the city are mortally scared of rain. Their parents always warn their children not to get wet even in a drizzle for fear of catching a cold. City children hardly play in the rain or even walk without an umbrella on a rainy day. The cool touch of rain hardly reaches them under their umbrellas or raincoats. “Rain, what a bother!” they seem to say.

In the dry zone rain does not come very often, but it is apt to come fast and furiously with thunder and lightning. Villagers and their children welcome rain gladly as they had waited so long for it. When there are no rain villagers pray to gods and organise various ceremonies including dances to please rain gods. I have attended many such night-long chants for rain.

You may scoff at the villagers’ way with rain as you sit in your city apartments watching the showers lashing the streets. At least once in a way town folks should go to the country and walk-through rain along the foot paths and gravel roads. They will see tree trunks dark with wetness everywhere. Leaves on them will be shining in the rain. You will see water running in the middle of leaves and dripping on to the soft earth below. You will hear a murmuring sound of rain everywhere around you. What is more, you will see the steady drip-splash of rain drops from the trees. If you cross a field, you will be welcomed by the wet tickle of grass against your feet. Once in a way, lift your face for the cool touch of rain water.

Strong winds

Sometimes, rain is accompanied by strong winds. That is the time village children looked out for shelter. When you are in the house, the roof makes a faraway roaring sound though it is right above your head. Rain water beats against your windows with sudden sting and fury. And you will see little streams of water running down the pane.

Children in the city take off their wet shoes and warm their feet. Sometimes they get a funny feeling that it is only on rainy days they feel quite comfortable and secure in their houses. When the rain ceases, they go out into a shiny wet world. How many times have they seen the wide bright arc of a rainbow?

Unknown to us some people dream of rain. It means different things to different people. According to some dream interpreters, dreaming about rain is bound to bring luck. On the other hand, dreaming about the sun is supposed to bring bad luck. This is because the sun dries up the water available for drinking and irrigation purposes. If you dream of the sun while living in a village blessed with a lot of rain, it will bring luck. Although dreaming about water is good, if you dream of floods and storms, it is bad. People living in marshlands in the Central Russian planes have too much water all the time. For them dreaming of the sun is lucky.

Pleasant sight

Water that falls from the sky is not only rain. There is dew falling in the evening and early morning. But we hardly see it or hear it. In the city people do not know that there is a thing called dew. If you walk in a village early in the morning, you will see the fine mist on the grass and leaves of plants. It is a very pleasant sight. Nature makes the morning memorable with the neat patterns of spider webs across the grass with little drops of dew. It is the time to walk on the grass with your bare feet. There is an ancient myth that if you wash your face with dew drops of water found on leaves, you will be beautiful. As village children we used to scoop up water from the grass blades and rub it over our faces. It gave us a wonderful feeling.

The attitude towards rain in villages and cities is quite different. In cities people consider rain as an unwelcomed visitor. It disrupts their plans, roads go under water, trees fall across roads obstructing the flow of traffic and pavement hawkers wait impatiently until the rain ceases. However, villagers welcome rain in all seasons. Rain puts an end to the dry season. It fills streams, rivers and wells to the brim. Footpaths and gravel roads go under water but villagers do not curse rain. School children love rain because they can wait at home. As villagers do not lead a hectic life, they wait patiently to plough their fields and tend their vegetable plots.

After the rain the sun shines brighter than ever. Flowers bloom and trees get ready to welcome their dumb friends such as birds and monkeys. While monkeys chatter birds fly away looking for food. You can see farmers going towards the field carrying mamoties on their shoulders. The streams and rivers are in spate and people avoid bathing in them. Women go out into the garden to pick some edible leaves and mangoes lying at the foot of trees. Rain has cleansed the whole atmosphere and everybody begins to breathe fresh air. As J. Vijayatunga in his masterpiece “Grass for my feet” says, “Rain is definitely one of the elements. We see it and feel it and we hear it and smell it.” What more can you expect from rain?

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