|Monsoon. Vipassana Center. Igatpuri, Maharashtra, India (June 2005)|
It looks like the Monsoon season has arrived in India with a bang. Seeing Facebook posts filled with the rains, I remembered the first time I had a chance to experience it as an adult. Almost exactly ten years ago, right after a walking pilgrimage. Nipun and I were staying at the Vipassana Center in Igatpuri when it happened. I remember how hot and dry it got right before it, and how people eagerly awaited this season, especially the farmers because the heat was unbearable and the land had completely dried up. Below is a poem that came up for me at the time.
The Rain Gods
Unbearably loud --- not a single leaf stands still,
each one joins the chorus
as the wind hurriedly rushes through.
The dark clouds hover over
as the drumming starts in a distance.
People gather together,
to welcome the first rain.
The lightning strikes
as if all the cosmos are assembling for a grand finale.
I look up at the clouds with folded hands
as the zealous wind envelopes my whole body.
And offer a silent prayer to the Rain Gods.
Thinking of the farmers in far away hilly lands,
who only have work when it rains,
thinking of their little children with empty stomachs,
thinking of the sad grandfather whose cows ran away,
because there wasn’t anything left for them to eat.
The drumming gets louder as everyone impatiently awaits,
the pitter-patter of the first monsoon rain.
I stretch out my hand and feel the first few drops,
anxiously waiting for the showers after such a thunderous show.
But to my dismay everything comes -- to a standstill.
The clouds disseminate as quickly as they had gathered.
The temperamental wind decides to go elsewhere for the day.
Only the faithful drumming in the distance remains.
And the silent prayers,
that have yet to be answered.
But it doesn’t rain tonight,
Or the next day, or the next one after that.
Instead, the sun shines brighter than ever,
As if to take back its crown.
Until five days later,
As I sit quietly in meditation,
I hear a few drops hit the tin roof above,
and then a few more, and then a couple more,
until they all come marching down.
My heart fills with joy.
I could feel the earth being watered,
little seeds will soon start to sprout.
And while I couldn’t hear the drums of the farmers,
I could feel their heartbeats dancing with joy.
The Rain Gods have arrived.
As I sat there smiling in silence,
I knew at least one old grandfather
will be sitting on his porch
wearing the same smile,
thankful that his cows will have to
run away no more,
for there will be plenty for them to eat.