For dad’s birthday, I wrote a quick status message on Facebook yesterday. I thanked him for everything, but for some reason, I thanked him more for making me bunk school on rainy days. Later, I realised, a blog was lying in that post.
I am a pluviophile. Rainy days can have a great impact on my outlook. Just like every other rain-lover, I whine about going to work when it pours down. I would want to curl up at home, read a nice book, and generally feel content. It makes me immensely sad to do anything mundane when it rains. On such unkind days, I try to feel better by reminiscing about the way I used to delight in rainy days, when I was in school, when all I had to do was enjoy the weather, and when life was incredibly simple.
There is something comforting about lounging on the bed for a while, before actually waking up. The feeling appears only more pleasant on cold, rainy days – to keep lying on the bed, listening to the torrential rain that patters against the windows, and to bask in the thought that ‘a long day lies ahead, and that it’s all mine.’
When I was in school, even before I could raise from my bed, dad would tell me, “It’s okay. Sleep more. You need not go to school today. Relax at home.” Most mornings, I would wake up to see him applying cologne on his carefully shaven face. If I jumped from my bed fast and ran to him, he would sprinkle some cologne on my palm too. Such a lovely, unforgettable fragrance! Shuffling my legs, I would smile at him to pour more, and he would always indulge me.
Sometimes, I would make subtle protests when I was not allowed to go to school on rainy days. “Appa, I might miss the Mathematics class. It’s important. I must go…” He would smile naughtily. “I was told that government has declared holiday. Don’t fret,” he would say. Although I was a child, I always knew that it was a lie. But, I chose not to protest further. After all, it was his way of caring for us.
Regardless of the kind of clothes I used to wear on rainy days, I would always keep myself warm by sporting granddad’s sweater vest, even if it wasn’t really cold. A mischievous rat had eaten a small piece of the sweater. I never really gave a damn. The sweater vest was black, charmingly vintage, and I was madly in love with it. Whenever my sister and I wore it, mum would offer her brightest smile. It was her dad’s belonging. I would also go a bit overboard by wearing a pair of my favourite socks.
I was never a lover of breakfast. So, I would wolf down an early lunch. Then, I would go out, and stand at the threshold for a long while, gazing at the grey sky, and colourless rain. On such occasions, gazing meant gazing. Thoughts would never go astray. As a little child then, I wouldn’t have known how Zennish such moments could have been. In retrospect, I realise how rain had inspired a child to just be.
Around noon, I would sprawl in front of the TV. There was a channel that telecast old Tamil movies every afternoon. I was the kind of child, who watched a lot of Discovery, National Geographic, and Tamil movies. Even then, I was a sucker for classics. Sampoorna Ramayanam, Poompuhaar, Kandhan Karunai, Nenjil Oor Aalayam, Kadhalikka Neramillai, Iru Kodugal, and many such old films were watched. Guilt never enveloped me for bunking school, and watching movies that were beyond my age, because dad wanted his children home. (I was prone to too many infections then, and he always chose to prevent.)
By 5 pm, mum would make some delicious snacks. Thattai, Thenkozhal, and such munchies. After the taste-buds were sated, I would go to the terrace, and find shapes in the clouds. I would retire at 9.30 pm again. Despite doing nothing (technically), I would fall asleep in no time.
There was nothing striking about those days. I might have done what most children would do on rainy days. Maybe, I am just romanticizing and glorifying the past. But, what looks extraordinary is that the liberty I enjoyed, the ability to be happy, carefree, and sleep with a silent mind. I was not laden with the onus of managing myself. I didn’t have to wake up and rush to work the next day. The days seemed more peaceful, and the nights seemed longer. Life, in general, seemed blissful. Perhaps, it was just the rain. Or, was it the childhood?
I finished reading Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane a couple of weeks ago, and I am still nursing a hangover. I particularly love this passage that goes with the theme I have just explored.
I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.