Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Rohita Writes to Her Dad on a Rainy Day: A Story
After those days of scorching heat, it is very good to see the sky getting filled up with dark clouds. I wistfully wait for those moments when the dark and heavy clouds open their small windows and let the water drops fall on earth. Water drops are like babies, they jump, fall, get up and again fall. They fall all over the roof tops, on trees, plants and grass. They don’t spare anything. They chase the squirrels away to their tree holes. They send the birds to hide inside their nests.
We, the children love rain a lot. We all want to play in the muddy pool made by the incessant rains. We want to run over the grass fields that are wet with heavy water drops. What a sensation it is; cool water drops touching our soles. I giggle whenever rain drops touch me. I just want to get wet when it rains.
But what to do? You know, how mummies and daddies behave..as if they never had a childhood! The moment the kids jump out of the home to play in rain, the mommies and daddies would scream. “Hey, get in..you will catch cold.”
Oh, that’s what they tell kids. Actually, children don’t catch cold or anything if they play under rain. I always think about those small kids at the traffic junctions. They sell flowers, toys and some towels. Sometimes they beg too. I feel so bad about them. I ask myself why their parents don’t take care of them the way my parents take care of me. One day I asked my mom about this. She told me that they were poor and homeless. They had to work for their lives. Somehow I felt a lot of anger inside me. I decided to ask god about this. I did ask him about it that evening. But he was silent. Photographs don’t talk, I know. But I am sure that one day, when I see him in my dreams I will ask him about this. He is my friend.
Let me come back to my dear rain. One day she came. Yes, I think rain is a girl child; bubbly and cheerful. I have never seen a sad rain. Rains cannot be sad. But in cinema they show sad rains. I don’t like them. I have seen my mom and dad watching sad movies and sad rains and sad songs with a lot of interest. I don’t know what these grown up people think about themselves. They are really crazy people.
One day, finally it rained. It was a Sunday. Mom was in kitchen. Yesterday evening I had received a call from my dad. He told me he was on the way to border where some fight was on between India and Pakistan. I don’t even know why two countries fight. The other day I saw lot of children playing in a park in Pakistan. They were just like us and the park where they played also looked exactly like the park in front of our house. I don’t but then why these grown up people fight. I hate fighting. I hate wars. And I hate anything that put children into trouble.
But what to do? My dad is an army officer and he need to fight for his country. And they all say that we should be loyal to our country and fighting for our country is the best sacrifice one can make in his or her life. But I don’t want to become a woman-soldier when I grow up. I want to become a writer and I can write the stories of children and how they feel about wars and fights. I want to tell these grown up people that we feel a lot bad when they fight. We feel frightened too. You know, we are frightened like anything. And whenever you see us sleeping, don’t think that we are sleeping peacefully. No, we are not sleeping in peace. We are sleeping because we want to get rid of our fear when you fight. We, children escape from fear through sleep. We don’t have any other way.
When the rain drops were beckoning me with their trotting sounds and music, I asked permission from my mom to venture out and play in rain. She allowed me only if I took my umbrella along. I was itching to get out of home and walk in the rain and get wet. But this small compromise was worth making. So I took out my blue umbrella and went out to play.
I went to Anusha’s home. Standing outside the gate I called out for her. She came and looked at me through the door grill. I asked her to come out and walk with me. But she looked sad. Without saying anything, she went inside. I could make out that her parents did not allow her to come out and play under rain. Then I went to Sambhu’s house. Then to Martha’s. They all refused to come with me. So I decided to walk alone and play with the rain drops and puddles.
In our housing complex there is a long boulevard with tall trees on either side of it. Though I am familiar with all the plants, shrubs and weeds there, when they stand fresh washed with rain water, they look different. They look so happy that they look different too. Sad people are sad in the same way. But happy people look so different when they are happy. Plants, flowers, birds, monkeys, squirrels and all must be looking different now because they are happy.
While walking along the path with no one around and with the buzzing sound of rain falling on my umbrella and the general hissing noise that the rain drops and wind make together , suddenly something flitted across my face. Startled I jumped back. A small noise of fear escaped between my lips. I was really frightened. Who could it be? I wondered and looked around. I could not see anyone in the vicinity. Then I noticed one maina bird walking furiously on the earth. Then something flitted across my face again.
This time I saw it. It was another maina bird. It flitted across me again and again, and the other bird made some shrieking noises as if it were trying to chase me away. Briskly I walked ahead and turned back to see what these birds were up to.
They were flying around with their small wings now weakened by water and dirt. They flew between trees, ledges and fences. I wondered why there were doing so. I stood there and watched them working on something so diligently but frantically. Soon I saw that!
The birds were going in and around a bush and they were almost giving some instructions to the bush! They moved back and forth. As I approached, shrieking fiercely they retreated from the bush. They hopped back and looked at me intently. With soft footsteps I went near the bush. I could not see anything. So I walked around and tried to see what was going on inside the bush. I bend down and craned my neck towards it. There I saw a small maina chick sitting and shivering.
Its small little body was all wet. With water pushing the feathers from around its head and neck, it looked like a bald child. Its yellow beak was sharp. It gave me a side glance. And it was full of fear. I could sense how it might have been feeling then. The bird was shivering. It was impossible for me to push my hands inside and rescue the chick from there. So I decide to wait there and watch if some cat or monkey by and attack it.
The other two birds (now I could make out that they were the parents of this chick) looked at me watchfully. Once they felt that I did not mean any harm, they became calm. Their shrieking subsided. Now it was reduced to some noises that almost sounded like instructions to the little chick. I felt like calling out my mom. But then I thought like standing there alone and watching the mother and father birds taking care of their little one.
My mother might be thinking about me know. She must be also worrying about me. But then, she knew me as a child who wanted to wander alone in the park, when I did not play with other kids. She knew my love for birds and animals. So she might be imaging about me sitting somewhere under a tree and watching rain and she must be smiling also.
I was so engrossed with the activities of those birds that I did not know how many hours passed by then. The birds were like commanders and were exhorting and cheering their kid continuously. I looked at the eyes of the chick. It was now calm. The wild fear had disappeared from its eyes. In its place now I could see some kind of calmness and sense of relief.
Rain had already stopped and I did not know it had stopped long back as I was too involved with the birds. Sun came out and shone brightly over the trees, plants and grass. Other birds started chirping again. The hissing sound had given way to the normal noises of birds. Squirrels came out of their holes and started running here and there.
Then the chick hopped out of the bush. The parents flew around it. And the mother bird jumped from one shrub to the other while the father bird watched out for cats and monkeys. The mother hopped towards a stump where sunlight was falling directly. The chick followed what its mother did. It hopped, once, twice and on the third attempt it could land on the stump where it sat for a long time.
Slowly, I could see its feathers coming back to shape as the water evaporated from its body. Soon it transformed into a beautiful maina chick. I thought it was smiling. Its eyes did not show any fear. Father was still watching out for unseen dangers and mother disappeared from the scene for a while. Soon it came back. The father and mother shrieked something between each other. Then they started again showing their kids something.
Once the chick’s attention was completely on the mother, it flew from the ledge to a lower branch. The chick followed the action. From there it flew towards the next branch. The chick followed what the mother did. All these while, father bird stood guard on the earth. Finally, the chick reached the tree where its nest was perched.
I felt like jumping and screaming with joy. I did not do it though I made a happy clucking sound with my tongue.
Once again the mother disappeared. Now the chick was opening its beak wide and making a very sharp noise. The father sat a branch below and looked up as if he was taunting him for being too naughty. The chick kept its mouth opened and turned its neck around.
Soon the mother came back to the scene. This time she had something in her beak. She sat safely on a branch opposite to where the chick was sitting. Leaning her body completely forwards, with her feet tightly holding around the branch, pushed her beak loaded with some eatables into the mouth of the chick.
I felt the rain of joy pouring inside me. I did not know how to express it.
But dad, suddenly I remembered you. What are you doing now? Have you reached the border safely? Are you going to fight with somebody? Come back Dad, I want to be with you. Please come back. I don’t want you to fight with anyone. I want you.
I am writing all these down because I know you would like to read my diary when you come back. Yes, Dad, I will not forget all what you have told me. I am a good girl, Dad.
Oh...this Mom....she is calling me Dad..Before she comes in to find out what I am writing, let me rush. I don’t want to see her crying when she reads my diary. Love you, Dad. Bye.