Sometimes, when it rains, I like to curl up on the window ledge – in my verandah, which has a honeycomb of windows, instead of walls – with a cup of first flush tea – living partly in North Bengal pays off emotional needs in the name of grocery – and read Ruskin Bond’s poetry.
Now that it is raining this morning, I, as always, with one hand holding the grilles, threw the other hand out of the window, trying to reach clear space away from the second floor portico and the krishnachura-radhachura canopy.
The nor’westers came from Ranchi and Jamshedpur, dotting the crisscrossing telephone wires with pearls, beating against the tin porches of our neighbour’s gemstone shop – the sound of which is to hearing what petrichor is to smell.
I had watched Ruskin Bond speak at a lot of events, and it is beautiful when he does. It is beautiful because somehow, when he is the epicentre of a session, the session travels farther and farther away from talk of controversy, popularity, tags, as seems to be the custom of most literary discussions nowadays, and delves into nature, memory, childhood, happiness. It indeed is like driving away from things which plague the people of the plains, and going up and up looping mountain paths into the clouds, where the rain comes from and where souls are revived.
I wish I could send my gratitude to Ruskin Bond through the rains. I know it is geographically impossible to push the nor’westers further west, further north, but, let’s just say, on one magical day, maybe on this day, when, eighty-one years ago, the mountains were blessed with this man, Bond gets missives of gratitude from all over the country in the form of rain.
Of course, the entire world should be indebted to him, because he portrayed what is most beautiful in India to them, but, to us Indians, he willed the page of a dusty book to open, letting us get to know ourselves better.
So, if the rain were to carry my gratitude to him today, it would carry the image of heavy rain beating against the bamboo pillars of a house under construction that is being built on the site where a lake used to be; the television blaring with political debates and for the breath of a second, a slogan-screaming group appearing out of nowhere; the call of a strange bird, unseen from within the nodding leaves and flowers; in the shadow of flooded flower pots, a half-filled cup of tea on the rain-sweaty window ledge.
I would tell him that even when my immediate surroundings speak very differently from his window ledge musings in “Rain In The Mountains”, the mind has a way of running to his way of seeing things. Swiftly, inevitably, religiously.
While I get back to finishing my tea, let me share one of Bond’s poems which has been on my mind all morning.
LONE FOX DANCING
As I walked home last night
I saw a lone fox dancing
In the cold moonlight.
I stood and watched. Then
Took the low road, knowing
The night was his by right.
Sometimes, when words ring true,
I’m like a lone fox dancing
In the morning dew.