Village Rain | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 09, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 09, 2010

Tangents By Ihtisham Kabir

Village Rain

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For city-dwellers, the prospect of getting caught in a downpour in the countryside, far from the nearest shelter, can be daunting. For me it was a memorable experience.
It was a bright, sunny morning when I went for a walk in the forest. The air was crystal clear and the trees vibrant with Borsha's green. The azure sky had no hint of clouds. I grabbed my camera and pocketed its plastic protective bag. Checking the sky I decided against an umbrella.
After I had walked for half an hour, lost in taking pictures of the trees and the birds, I noticed the cloud. It had showed up suddenly on the southeastern corner of the sky. At first it was a white puff, but in minutes it darkened, grew, and started rolling in from the horizon. The warm morning breeze turned noticeably cooler and stronger.
I kept hoping that the wind would keep blowing. Then the clouds might pass by without rain. But the wind suddenly stopped. The sweet warbles of the Bulbulis and the strident squawks of the Fingeys went silent. The Earth seemed to take a deep breath and hold it, waiting for the rain.
When you are out in the open, you feel the rain before you hear it. But I was inside a grove of trees, so I heard the rain first. The sound of water hitting the leaves grew louder until it became a roar. Then the torrent broke through the cover of the leaves and drenched me. Luckily my camera remained dry inside the bag.
The rain brought celebration among the frogs. They hopped around needlessly. The leeches which had been lying dormant in among the grass now came alive. Some climbed on cows to suck their blood. I pulled away a few from my legs before they had a chance to puncture my skin.
But the birds did not enjoy the rain at all. They were all gone, probably busy sheltering their young in their nest. An owl perched on a jackfruit branch shivering miserably.
A few workers had been clearing weeds among the trees. They huddled together in the rain and brought out some food from their gamcha-wrapped tins. Two of them ran off with a da, returning shortly with three large banana leaves. Under these they took shelter as they ate their morning meal.
In the fields the farm workers had no break. Wearing their large hats to protect their heads, they shooed the cows this way and that to plough the land. On a nearby field, others transplanted newly sprouted rice seedlings, sowing them in a regular pattern on a freshly ploughed land. Losing time because of rain would cost them dearly.
The rain lasted only fifteen minutes. The skies cleared and returned to azure and sunlight cut through the trees. The leaves glistened and the earth gave off the smell of life. But in that short time while it lasted, that rain transported me to a very different world.

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