It was the onset of monsoon. The sweet smell of petrichor enveloped the air around. It only helped that we stayed on the ground floor of the building and the first showers meant that you could hear the closely planted line of trees in the building opposite our bedroom, swishing and swooshing to the orchestrated tunes of thunder, loud and clear. I would spend hours clinging to the window grills watching this rather elaborate performance they’d been practising in secret for almost a year. Those were also the days when it was not too rare to hear the frogs croaking in this season or spot a bunch of earthworms making their way to the broken pavements for their annual check on the current state of affairs.
On one such rainy afternoon when I got back home from school I saw several corrugated metal sheets stacked one above the other in the hall of our home. Nails, bolts, pliers, screwdrivers, etc were strewn next to this in plastic bags. It wasn’t hard to put together that this was a part of dad’s yet another DIY at home (we had witnessed a lot of these growing up!). As I continued to stare at the shiny sheets of metal in front of me, my eager and calculative mind failed to fathom the exact nature of his plans. A little nudging and mom mentioned how he’d purchased these metal sheets that he now intended to fix outside our windows as roofing. This would mean that through the months of monsoon ahead, rain would hit the corrugated metal sheets to create the ‘sound of rain’ that he loved so dearly!
The next couple of hours until sunset, I saw him labour through a round of measuring and marking, sawing and screw-driving – one sheet after another. All this as mom, my siblings and I offered to help him in turns, as was always the involuntary ritual, while music softly blared through the FM radio. I failed to understand the fuss around this ‘sound of rain’ and wondered to myself as to how beautiful could this possibly sound to have to go through an arduous process like the one he’d opted for and be willing to spend a couple of hours on an otherwise fine day covered in sweat and soil by choice. By the time the sun had set he’d finally managed to screw all the metal sheets as envisioned to create a row of neatly angled roofing to our windows.
As luck would have it, it rained that night. And it rained heavily. My parents, who never let go of any excuse to indulge in yet another cup of tea, quickly found themselves with a steaming mug in hand seated by the freshly roofed windowsill. I sat next to them. It was then that I first heard that unforgettable ‘sound of rain’. I can even today distinctly hear the continuous amplified pitter-patter of raindrops, as it hit the tin roof to steadily fall to the ground, often punctuated with an occasional thunder while everything around was blanketed in darkness. It sounded like looped music set to some mesmeric notes that I was unaware of all these years. For me, it was a revelation. A comforting white noise. We sat for hours by the window that night, basking in the sweet glory of dad’s labor earlier in the day.
Time passed and as fate would have it, I too developed an extreme fondness to this ‘sound of rain’. As my bed was positioned right next to the window, growing up, I slept many a dreams to this sound and stayed awake many more nights trying to soak in its melody – at times joyous and at times melancholy. With years, my definition of monsoon changed much like the changing landscapes around. The line of trees were now replaced by more concrete and the croaking frogs were impossible to hear now over the loud honks of endless cars and rickshaws. However, my love for this season stuck through despite the muck, floods and incessant jams – just a few new connotations to monsoon that the adult life, much to my younger self’s dismay, brought along. And unsurprisingly amidst this all my undying love for the ‘sound of rain’ continued.
As I scrolled through my phone last night, I was inundated with pictures and videos of the first rains that hit Bombay. The misty car screens, the curtains flapping by the windows, bolts of sharp light in the cobalt hued skies, windy waves and the stormy lanes – it all looked too familiar and a sense of anguish engulfed me. I looked outside the window of my apartment here in Dubai, the sun was still setting and it was arid, sandy and dry. Only shades of sepia as far as my eyes could see. I achingly longed for a slice of monsoon.
I strangely then woke up this morning to a sound almost akin to the sound of rain hitting a tin roof!! I was almost certain I was still dreaming or perhaps I left some video with background white noise score on (something that I have been increasingly relying on in the past year or so to be able to successfully fall asleep). When I figured it was neither, I hurriedly got out of my bed to inspect the source of this continuous sound and to my surprise it was emanating from the central ac in our apartment! Now this very ac had been working perfectly fine until this morning and there was no real explanation for this unusual new development. The continuous soft sound of pitter-patter on a tin roof continued as I went about my day distractedly and I couldn’t help but time travel to and fro to my very first encounter to this ‘sound of rain’ and the sheer coincidence of this timing and the utter comforting oddness of it all.
Later when Anish got back home from work he too noticed this continuous sound and asked me why I hadn’t called the guys for maintenance all through the day. I simply shrugged it off. Some stories are better read than heard unlike ‘the sound of rain’.
– Kavya D’Souza