One word: Monsoon. What does it remind you of? It’s more of a feeling than a season, right? It is, at least for me. I grew up in Kerala and I don’t think I need to explain more. But I will anyway, because that’s what this post is about. It rains quite a bit in Kerala. Once I think I was in grade 5 or 6 and the monsoons started in May and lasted till November end. That’s more than half the year! I remember making paper boats and setting them off in the 1 inch tall river flowing in our yard. My mom and I would bath in the first rain of the season every year, without fail. Well, that was before global warming was at a all time high and the first rains weren’t as toxic!
We were allowed to wear black sandals instead of shoes to school during the rainy season and I loved it. It was very common for schools to call it a mid-day because of how much it rained, the streets would flood up pretty quickly. So much so that on multiple occasions I had encountered people rowing their inflatable boats on the streets. I am not kidding! Once, my cousins and I were walking home from where the school bus had dropped us after declaring it a mid day and it was pouring cats and dogs. The three of us were slowly making our way through the flooded street when one of us fell in the open gutter. It was hilarious at the moment but in hindsight also pretty dangerous.
I hadn’t associated fear with monsoons until last year. Monsoon of 2019. I was in Mumbai that year, fresh out of college. New to being a 100% independent and truly living the adult life. I rented out a VERY OLD apartment. Well you know because it was Mumbai and that’s the living scene there. So, the old building was 4 floors tall with no elevator and only one person could climb the stairs at once. I was obviously on the 4th floor. I didn’t mind the stairs but I did mind how old the flat was, not kidding, it was as old as the grandpa in the MDH Masala ads. Did you know he was the owner of the brand? Anyway, the newbie adult in an old flat and hectic Mumbai rains wasn’t the most ideal combination!
Up until then I always experienced rains from the luxury of a good leak-proof shelter and cars to commute in. On my first day in the new house I discovered that my ceiling was leaking and it soaked my entire bed. My skunk of a landlord didn’t think it was necessary to inform us about this before I moved in. I slept in my flatmate’s room on the very first night in that old farty flat. Don’t worry, I soon changed my flat. I would then realize how much of a pain the rains could caused while commuting. I would be drenched by the time I would reach office. And have to sit in the cold room in my soaking jeans! Of course the rickshaws can be blamed for it! I missed that romantic feeling of sitting in a car while it pours outside and you watch the raindrops race down your window.
I started fearing the rains. I couldn’t bear the thunder and lightening. I started staying over at my friend’s flat on especially rainy nights. I thought being around someone would help with this fear. But it didn’t. Sure it was comforting but still scary. Now that I think of it, monsoon was my first season of being an adult. I subconsciously correlated my fear of adulthood with monsoons. Even though I had friends in the city and a family to call once a day, I was lonely. I felt alone in that journey. I felt attacked, under prepared, and terribly lonely. I was so scared. Still am. Being independent is liberating but also daunting. Maybe I was just cursed with a bad start, not just the monsoons, but my first flat and first job weren’t the right fit and I would go on to change them in 4 and 5 months respectively.
I am back home with my parents now and not that scared of the rains. But only because I am dependent here and at a safe distance from the rains. I have realized how challenging and scary rains can be for the unfortunate. I am aware of my privilege to be able to romanticize the rains. But I don’t think I can ever go back to romanticizing it, my rosy tinted lenses have been snatched away from me. Here’s to growing up!