I remember it as clear as day, which is a strange thing to say as the memory itself is of nighttime. It was raining heavily that night. Heavy was how it did: the rain in Mumbai. A bolt of lightning shot through the sky presenting the scene around me like a photographic flash not invented yet. The rumbling had become my background score. The sweet sound of raindrops hitting the surfaces of puddles somehow held its own against seemingly heavier opponents.
I loved watching the angles of the rain drops. Drops so large and forceful, they could dent cars if they tried hard enough all night. They came down in bullying rage, but with a decorum of obliqueness, parallel to each other, yet at odds with everything else: a law unto themselves.
The fourth floor apartment window I patronized overlooked the abandoned garden. Untamed shrubbery and grass amidst the trees were in tireless negotiations with the howling wind. I still remember that bench. The one bench that was close enough to a streetlight. I could see it so clearly. I’d be able to sculpt the mosaic from memory, textured like a face with years of wisdom and character. That bench was probably never cleaned, save for the all-forgiving showers. On rainy nights, it looked like it probably had the day it was created.
I still don’t understand why that mental picture means so much to me. I haven’t seen rain like that much in over four years, about the same time since I looked hard at that bench. I could make some half-baked joke about my crippling laziness, and how a bench would represent my ultimate life-goals, or I could make my readers gag by suggesting that this recurring image is some inspiration to stay firm in unfavorable circumstances, while using the adversity to develop and grow. That most certainly isn’t it.
I remember, as a teenager that my feelings of vulnerability rose whenever it rained. I supposed my subconscious had convinced me that worst case, I’d have to live on the streets, where I’d totally survive, as long as it didn’t rain. Somehow, rain represented adversity, a question to the answer of shelter. I always have enormous respect for my parents’ achievements, but none so clear as when it poured in Bombay.