When is it going to rain again?
Today the greenish water is quiet and serene. The reflection of the mango branches laden with blossoms paints a photographic image on the surface, disturbed occasionally only by a light breeze. The tall coconut and "taal" palm tower over one another in a fierce battle to be included in the exquisite collage on the water.
It's a beautiful pond, majestic and compassionate, commanding the love and reverence of everything and anything in its environs. Clumps of water hyacinths with soft mauve flowers drift gently from one side of the pond to the other, round the clock on journeys that never end. Every morning, almost at a designated time, a pair of ducks appear from under the bowing mango branches. Gliding gently into the water they swim towards the centre of the pond. Seconds later, a large flock follows suit, always keeping a respectable distance from the pair. Frolicking and splashing in sheer delight, totally oblivious of the superior attitudes close by, they commence to celebrate the advent of the new day. Soon after yet another group, much younger, almost ducklings, make an unmistakable juvenile and raucous entry, much to the annoyance of the imperial pair. Or so it seems. They join in the rejoicing, half diving with their tails sticking out of the water, pecking at their siblings playfully, fluttering their wings vigorously as though with sheer luck they might just take off and soar into the blues.
The amusement is too tempting to resist and the couple decides to break protocol and join the revelry. Not for long, though. Within less than a minute something gravely goes wrong. Without any prior warning, one of the couple lunges at the youngest members and hounds them until the dazed creatures are completely out of the water. Was it bad behavior, improper language or wrong attire? This happens every day without fail and unless I reincarnate into this feathered species I will never know the story behind this strange phenomenon. Once the youngsters have been dealt with, the couple move away from the common group and head for the far end of the pond. As the sun rises higher the morning session comes to a close and the rigid protocol is installed back once again. The couple waddle up on the opposite side of the pond and the rest slowly exit under the mango branches and disappear on the other side.
I am fascinated by their social norms. Who are this couple? Why and how do they command so much veneration? Not many people know the difference between a drake and a duck and, without giving in to prejudice, I am so tempted to believe they are both male. Or worse still, are they the patriarch and the matriarch of the family? Why do I sound annoyed? I resent their conceited attitude towards others, especially the little ones. These were tiny little ducklings when I first saw them about six or seven weeks ago. I remember how terrified and anxious they were the first day they came down into the water. They huddled in a corner, too frightened to break away from one another. Fortunately they are growing up fast.
The only time I saw all palace regulations swept aside, at least for a considerable length of time, was when the first Baishakhi downpour eventually descended on the pond. I switched off the air conditioner and opened my window to listen to the rain. What I saw was much more than I had bargained for. The enormous raindrops splattered on the pond, stirring up not just ripples but miniature waves. The wild wind blew across the top of the lofty palms, rain trees and the blossom laden mango trees, almost forcing them to submission. Instead they danced madly to the rhythm of the rain. Trying desperately to keep their delicate heads high, the hyacinth flowers held on in agony, not having the luxury of enjoying storms.
But in centre stage were the ducks, all of them. The thunder, lightning, wind and rain formed the most extraordinary orchestra. Complemented with light and sound, not forgetting special effects, the whole scene was like a dream sequence. I stood at my window, mesmerized by this spectacular sight.
Shrieking in ultimate ecstasy, they splashed and fluttered their wings, stirring up a tempest of their very own! Such sudden interaction amongst them had never been witnessed before. All restrictions and inhibitions were washed away and they rejoiced as though this was the one and only rainstorm they would ever be blessed with. They continued with the carousal for as long as they could. Gliding in circles, they sometimes huddled into a tight group, sometimes dispersed, moving away far away from one another. It was like watching a live ballet choreographed to perfection. Very much like Swan Lake.
I stood there in a trance for twenty long or more minutes, until the storm leisurely passed on and brought the curtain down. It was still drizzling lightly as they continued to linger on, seeping up the aftermath of the Baishakhi, already quite drunk and content from their revelry.
Today is a bright day. So were yesterday and the day before that. I see pretty yellow butterflies fluttering in the balmy breeze, green dragonflies skimping on the hyacinth flowers. I am in anticipation of something more, although they are blissfully happy, performing their morning rituals. When is it going to rain again?