13th Aug, 2011
Incessant rain! It’s been like this for the last seven days. I watch the water gurgling down the spout near my window. I hear it drumming on the cast iron lid of the water reservoir. I see it bouncing off the waxed leaves of the pui shak (Basella alba). I hear mommy shouting in the kitchen, “The huge marsh rat is here again! How will I chase it off? Its home is under water.” I feel happy that I have a home that is warm and dry, well at least some parts of it.
I get out for the bank. Today’s the last date to pay my EMI. My mom calls me lazy. Papa calls me a procrastinator. My wife asks me the repetitive question again, “Why do you always wait for the last date?” I try not to answer my “first date” and just utter a “hmmm” coupled with a foolish smile that translates to “Well, you know me? Right?” I feel happy that she loves me and tries to cover my faults with extra work/worry on her part.
I wade out into the street. The huge potholes are hidden under the slushy brown water. Children wrapped in colourful raincoats with characteristic backpack bulges, trudge their ways to school. Crows that couldn’t find shelter sit helplessly on electric wires, shaking off the water from their feathers every other minute. At the street crossing, vegetable sellers display their wares on blue plastic sheets. Wet potatoes, slices of arums, leafy vegetables that look greener and fresher as the rain patters on them. Outside the blue plastic zone, the mud is marked with shoe prints of various sizes and shapes, bicycle treads, tent-peg holes where the elderly people have dug the sharp ends of their parasols, while bending down to buy. I feel happy to see that life goes on, as always.
At the bank, the manager calls me in for a chat. He offers me tea. The tea arrives in a little brown china cup on a white saucer that also holds a pair of perforated salted biscuits. An elderly lady – a pensioner walks in, still dripping. She takes the chair beside me and wants to discuss something with the manager. I offer her my cup of tea. Hesitantly she agrees to take it. The manager looks at me with an expression that says, “that was the last cuppa; the support bearer just went out you saw.” Fifteen minutes later, my task done, I venture out. As I unfurl my umbrella and take a final look at the bank, the elderly lady smiles and waves at me. I feel happy that my transactions in the bank count more in smiles than money.
I get down at my bus stop and take out my cell phone from under the plastic wrap. I call mom, “Have you finished with your shopping for fish? Shall I wait here and help you carry your bag?” She says she’s already home and Ms. Paul of the B-block has carried her bag through the potholed street. She asks me how far from home I am so that she can put the tea to brew. I feel happy that we have fish, and tea, and neighbors who care.
As I wade back, I see a man in a red raincoat on a motorbike. His raincoat bulges in all directions though he doesn’t have any back packs. I feel happy that I’m not as fat as he is.
A gas delivery boy has stopped his tricycle-van and stands under the sunshade of someone’s garage to wait out the shower. He has a transparent plastic bag covering his head that can only help in a drizzle. I hear him humming a classical song, “Mora sainya moh se boley na...” (My beloved doesn’t talk to me...). I feel happy that my wife always keeps talking to me and I sometimes have to ask her to keep quiet, poor soul.
I get home and hang my dripping parasol on the railing. Uncle serves me tea. As we sit together around the table, I feel an itch on my shin. I discover a three-inch long, beautifully striped leech feasting on my blood. I pull it out and throw it out of the window. As blood drips down towards my foot, I feel happy. Happy to see that my blood is red, warm, and flows like a cute little river.
Well, happiness doesn’t need a reason. It’s a reason by itself!