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Monsoon memories.

Byline: Nasheet Jaffer Khan

Rain makes me homesick and sick. While a quick trip to the pharmacy ensures my body feels better, there is, unfortunately, no cure for nostalgia.

The monsoons in Hyderabad, India are eagerly looked forward to as they offer respite from the hot summer months.

People pray for rain as much as they pray for team India to win a cricket match. When it rains, it pours, and when the downpour finally stops, it leaves clues that the city has had a shower. Buildings made of bright red brick seem brighter and trees don a crisp green freshness, as if God had each leaf polished until it glistened.

To escape Saudi Arabia's heat, my family and I would often head to India for our aesummer' vacations in the aewinter' u mostly to attend a wedding in the family.

Many planned their monsoon weddings in August and September u for some it meant cheaper rates, for others a little more romance.

Monsoons for me meant eating hot mirchi ke bhajiye (batter-fried bell peppers), listening to old melodies and escaping from grandma's watchful eye to run up the terrace and dance in the rain.

As part of our rain dance, my cousins and I would take turns singing loudly, or screaming rather, until our throats were sore. We were very theatrical u even more so when it rained. And it wasn't just us u radio channels played aerain songs' and food stalls, selling hot and spicy food, worked overtime.

Often, the in-house entertainment episodes would take a forced break, with our mothers summoning us to get back down. One glare from my mum was enough to get me started on homework. This was usually followed by the warning, "Don't go up the terrace when it's raining u you will catch a cold". I, of course, never paid heed.

One day when heavy rains ensured you couldn't see beyond your nose, my cousins and I decided to get drenched. The youngest of the lot was elected to keep watch while a few of us ran up the staircase.

Halfway through, I slipped and fell. Bones intact, a sprain ensured I screamed loud enough for everyone in the house to rush to the terrace. I didn't cry, not because I was being brave but because I was too busy formulating an excuse for being in the aeforbidden' zone.

When I saw mum walking up the stairs I tried to look for a cousin to back me up u there were none!

An exchange of words followed and soon I was limping down, embarrassed because mum had yelled at me in front of aeeveryone' u technically, my grandma and an aunt.

A cold war ensued and I decided to head to my aunt's for a week.

A few days later, while out shopping, it started to rain heavily and the auto rickshaw my aunt and I were travelling in soon got stuck in the mud. We decided to wait for the rain to stop, so we could get into another rickshaw and head home, when suddenly we were hit by a vehicle.

The impact caused the rickshaw to tilt and fall onto its right side u the same end in which I was seated. My aunt screamed "My children, my children" before the vehicle fell. It must have been a funny sight to watch a middle-aged woman scream, while a 13-year-old remained calm. I was numb u not from the cold but because my aunt was worried only about her children. Where was my family when I needed them?

Three hours later, we returned home and I rushed to hug mum. No questions asked. They didn't matter. In my mother's eyes, I could see how I looked u mud-stained, dirty and soaked to the bone, but a daughter who was safe and closer home.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 20, 2009
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