Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rain Check

"Yes, yes! Right here mama,
I ain't out in the rain!"

The skies opened
to re-christen the birthday boy,
cleansing his veins and lanes
off grime and some crimes;
flushing his soul and sewers
off original and some duplicate sins.

But all I heard, between the quick
baby steps on concrete, was her voice,
which once made sure I played by
the rules written in the mist, in bold italics,
by the waving index finger
I held walking to school.

But I can't lie, can I?

This grey carries my sin,
sprinkled in between
the fresh shoots you planted
while I waited by the window
for my paper boats to dock.

"Yes, yes! Right here mama,

never in the rain, I play with fire now!"


And as I look out of my flat window here enjoying its sudden appearance, I hear my mother call. Many times!

Of course she is nowhere near me to call out my name and check whether I am inside the house or busy floating paper boats in the rain.

This used to be a regular call when I was a kid growing up in Kochi where rain is part of life just like the sun.

As a kid, though I was less naughty than I am now, one of my ideas of fun was rain and the inexpensive, low carbon-footprint activities surrounding it -- like sliding in the mud, making water skis with coconut tree branches, netting tadpoles and tiny fish in the small pond at our backyard, and of course miniature boats.

At times even my grown up aunts (mom's sisters) used to join me. Till my mama intervenes, calling out my name, asking me where I am and reminding me that I am not supposed to be outside.

The call stayed with me.

Later, even now as a 30-year-old, whenever I am left in peace to listen to the rain I hear my mother and her voice of concern and caution.

"Leslie, where are u my son, don't go out in the rain."

And I heard her voice today.

But rain is not my worry now mama. It is fire that I have to deal with every day.

I wish the days were as simple as the ones involving monsoon showers and paper boats. But at least I have my mama's voice with me and her beacon guides me to brief yet fulfilling visits to the simplicity of existence I once enjoyed.