It is 42 C. That is about 108 F. Dry heat. The kind that attacks your skin and sucks out every little bit of moisture from the depth of your bones. People go back and forth in their preference for the kind of heat – – dry or humid. Madras and Bombay, the temperature is in the late 30s, but humidity so high that breathing is difficult. Stringing one’s thoughts together, in either kind of heat, is a challenge.
Summers are a reminder: Of the frailty of the body. Of dependence on electricity and water. Of the longing for the rains. Even the word ‘monsoon’ has such a lovely feeling to it. It rolls off the tongue, with the languorous ‘soon’ at its end, a whispered promise. The bringer of life to farmers; their fortunes dependant on the vagrancies of winds and clouds. But it is also the city-dweller who eagerly checks the sky for changes, waiting day after day for the unrelenting heat to be washed out.
6.30am in a doctor’s waiting room. “It is pouring in Hyderabad.” “And Bangalore is cold – – remember what cold is?” Such is the conversation these days. Somebody remarks about photographs in the local newspaper of the rains in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. “How do you know those photos are of this year? Could be old photos. Media playing with our minds to prevent water riots” says a critical lady. Just then clouds cover the sun, and a calm is restored.
There is a deep sense of anticipation. A collective holding of breath. Close examination of the clouds. Soon, soon, the monsoons will be here. No wonder so much music and poetry was written for this Indian season.