Memory of a Rainy Day…

They thought it perverse of me to enjoy the rain and spend the entire journey looking out of the window. I couldn’t help staring out at the rain that day. It was furious, stormy and strangely alluring. 

Their anger was justified. Our speeding car was heading towards a funeral. Beloved Ammumma, my grandmother, had passed away and a long procession of cars were braving the storm, all the way from the hospital to our ancestral home. My parents were silent, my sister was lost in thought, the rest of my relatives were mourning. An aunt had fainted. Some of them were busy calling up the best florists in town and arranging for funeral wreaths to be delivered as soon as the procession arrived. And I sat there, watching the rain, humming even, earning contemptuous glares. Today, raindrops were tears from the sky, adding to the gloom pervading our souls.

My thoughts drift back and forth between a hundred and more days when the rain means something more than teardrops. A day at school when a friend opened his heart to a girl he liked; it resulted in heartbreak. Another day when a boy I knew waited at the neighborhood library for me, drenched, just to say hello. A rainy night at Coimbatore, when someone I knew had his first kiss. A sunset when I ran to the terrace and simply stood there in the rain. A cold breeze in Bangalore, pelting raindrops across my face, almost hurting me, while I sat out in the open, trying to sip coffee; obviously the rains won and I lost. A rare sunny shower, my mother held the pallu of her saree above my head and we ran, giggling like little children, to the shelter of a tree. A rain that spoiled my plans to roam about town with some friends in tow. A distant memory of lighting and thunder, Ammumma and I were sitting with our legs up on the couch, and talking about candy and cartoons and Onam and what I would bring for her when I visited her on my next vacation. I was old enough to promise her a video game. 

The rain died down completely. They were halfway immersed in singing the dirge when we arrived. They took Ammumma inside, washed her, dressed her in dazzling white and laid her gently in the coffin. Ammumma, you were an amazing woman. I miss you.

At the cemetery, Ammumma was laid to rest and everyone threw in a handful of frankincense, a parting gift for the departed. I think I was the last one to notice the smell of fresh soil. That fragrance that only comes with rain. The tears came swiftly then. But as the deluge of sorrow began to fall once again, I looked up into the sky and smiled.