June is the month of transition. The transition from summer to monsoon and this shift is widely accepted by some and is dejected by others. But when you see with a layman’s eye, sitting in one corner of the balcony in a 30-storey building, this proceeding is a sign of comfort.
The downpour soothes the soul from within, finally bringing an end to the hot spell. One by one, when the little drops-of-heaven land, everyone in the living community rejoices. In a city of India, Mumbai, the monsoon gets tagged with the city’s name. ‘Mumbai ki barish’ (the monsoon of Mumbai), as it is fondly called.
Somewhere in that city, was a girl sitting at her window, watching the raindrops hit the closed glass. Anamika remembered her first monsoon in Mumbai. She had been stuck in traffic for hours. Something that seemed like a frustrating event to the rest, had become a blissful happening for her. She could’ve stayed stuck in that traffic for a few hours more. Window seat of the public transport bus, the person she adored, sitting next to her and the rains.
Hailing from the town of Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, she had seldom seen such a beautiful scenario. The changing colours of the sky reflected in her eyes. She hadn’t found this level of comfort back in her small town. The glacial weather had frozen both, people’s minds and their hearts. There, she would crave for rains and be disappointed every time when the dark clouds disappeared. She remembered how back in the day when she was just fifteen, she danced to her heart’s content when it had drizzled, but later had to face the wrath of her mother.
Thunder shook the fragile windows of the renowned ‘BEST’ double-decker bus in which she had been sitting and had instantly brought her back to reality.
Remembering the next few minutes of that bus ride, she couldn’t help but smile.
To start the conversation, Anamika had offered the packet of cookies she had had in her purse to the person beside her. “Would you like some?” she’d asked. Smiling, the girl accepted and picked a cookie. She then noticed Anamika.
“Hey! You’re the new girl in our office, aren’t you?”
And that conversation had led up to the first ever relationship that Anamika had been in. For her, the monsoon marked a year to that beginning.
Love blooms in all directions in the Bollywood-city during monsoons. Be it Bandstand or Marine drive, one might see a lot of couples cosying around to enjoy the cold winds coming from the sea. Among these million couples were Anamika and Susan.
Enjoying the rains at seashores has been a common thing in Mumbai. But seeing the downpour while getting drenched in it and watching the ocean happily jumping in joy comes to a stop when one turns around and finds the streets flooded with the rainwater. The chaos on the streets, then only carries the worries of reaching home safely.
Sipping on some hot Chai and munching on the roasted corn in the balcony of their little apartment, Susan said, “I’m glad this became legal here. The last time I was here, Julie and I almost ended up getting arrested”.
Hearing this, a chill ran down Anamika’s spine.
Anamika was enjoying the rains with Susan to her fullest. But now, she had turned around.
The thought of having to face her parents with her reality flooded her mind. Mumbai was far more accepting than she had ever thought it would be, but what about the society back in her own home town. All this while she was enjoying the misty air and the showers in Bombay, but the storm was yet to come.
Her parents planned to visit Mumbai in winters to avoid the chills of Himachal. They had no clue that their eldest daughter was living with a pink-haired half-Irish woman who was someone she loved. But, Mumbai does this to everyone, it hugs you with open arms and then pushes you to fight your own battles.
The air of this city, or rather the monsoon of this city was magical, it brought together and separated people at the same time.
A few days later, back in their apartment, watching a cloudy sunset together, Susan said, “You know what I love the most about June?”
“The month?” Anamika asked.
“Mhm. It brings an end to this harsh heat season and the cool showers begin. It’s all pleasant.”
“Not all pleasant. I mean, it’s only my second monsoon in this city but I’ve seen the panic because of the rains.”
“Well… that’s rain for you. Some panic will follow it. But the city’s getting better, Annie. I see it. The panic is reducing. One day it might just be so well that people won’t panic because of rain at all. They will only enjoy it. And if not, then just calmly accept it. It’ll happen.”
Accept. This word hit Anamika hard. If only she had accepted herself differently when she discovered her sexuality, then things would have been easier. Rains would have been less harsh-er in Mandi and she wouldn’t have to run away from it. Millions like her, living in the farthest corners of the country shun this acceptance and let the heat of societal pressure sweat them off.
‘Mumbai ki barish’ (the monsoon of Mumbai), however, percolates unbiasedly in people, just like love.
Co-authored with Vatsal Thakore
Blog Link : theinceptedpath.wordpress.com