Summer 2024: Namita Rai

Namita Rai

Namita Rai


Summer Winds

As a traditional folk song hummed in my mind, reminiscent of my grandmother’s melodies, I felt light jerks indicating the arrival of the bumpy, muddy path leading to my village. Rolling down the car window, the warm summer windswept my hair aside, revealing the beige landscape, muddy paths, and thatched huts. On both sides of the road, aging trees stood gracefully in their brown attire. Their withered, torn leaves rustled as the hot winds whistled and teased them. Some trees, after shedding their brown and yellow leaves, made a yellowish-rich, creaking carpet on the ground, thus making the soil fertile to give birth to new life.
Why does summer have to sweat, perspire, burn, bake, and then drench, soak, and refresh nature? Is it always so with everything? A bright phase after experiencing dark!
Gradually, a dusky veil settled on the fading day. From far away, smoke from an earthen oven rose up to the sky, and a sad note sung by a young widow could be heard in the air. The pathos in her song touched my soul. I imagined her making chapatis. Her grief seemed to unfold and rise with the smoke up to the sky where her beloved rested. The only witnesses to her grief were the solitary Moon and the stars. I thought there was not much difference in humans and nature!
Like the leaves shed from the trees, so many must depart from their loved ones. It struck me how summers can be harsh for some yet inviting for others. Is this contrasting element which induces shifts in seasons, moods, tastes, and feelings. On these philosophical thoughts about nature and its alternating moods of harshness and gentleness, I went to sleep. Not surprisingly, the same warm wind became cool in the dawn.
Awakening to the mesmerizing rhythmic melody of the Nightingale, I squinted at the clear azure sky and the warm sun which graced the earth. Embracing the warmth, my body felt as agile and supple as an eel.
Upon hearing my grandmother’s call to the workers in the field for “JAGGERY SHERBAT,” I left my cot and proceeded towards the field. My grandmother leaning on the stick was already supervising the work.
Harvest gaiety seemed to be in the air. Folklore, folksongs, and peals of laughter permeated the environment as a soft summery breeze drifted and   the colorful ‘chunaris’ of village bellies swirled in the air, moreover the tinkling and jingling of bells around the necks of cows and buffaloes, who were driven to crush the sugarcane, added to the earthiness of the scene.
Songs resonated as women ground spices in mortar. The dropping of the pestle synchronized with the scythe's rhythm as they harvested the ears of wheat and gram. Festivities, uplifted moods, celebrations, and the evaporation of laborers’ sweat in the summery breeze permeated the surroundings. The fruits of the harvest brought contentment and joy to weathered faces.
Easterly winds swayed the cluster of blossoms on the mango tree, signaling the coming of raw mangoes or “TIKORAS”. The thought of pickles made my mouth water, and the juice of mango sweetened my senses. Licking my lips, I inhaled the fresh fragrance of jasmine blooming beside the well. Oh, the magic and enchantment of the summery breeze touched every part of nature. Feathery birds perched on twigs, while butterflies with colorful velvety  wings circled the shrubs and bushes. Spiders wove wooly webs while lizards, hunted their prey. In the daytime, the Saryu river waves exhibited a graceful rise and fall, appearing to be adorned in silver "WARAK"
In certain rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, there exists a myth or belief that during droughts, women would plough the land bare-bodied in the dark hours before dawn, uttering the names of the male heads of their families who were refrained from coming out of the house. This act could be interpreted a subtle way to daunt Lord Indra, suggesting if he failed to deliver the rains it could disrupt the natural order and modesty. As rain drops moistened the cracked earth, a gradual transformation in weather and season would unfold, bringing joyous gratitude on parched lips and desperate eyes.Small children would go from door to door and sing, "KAALE MEGHAPAAN DE, PAANI DE GUD DHAANI DE," a traditional invocation believed to summon rain. This practice, akin to a ‘Totka’ or superstitious belief, was deeply rooted in the communities where rainfall was essential for agricultural prosperity. As the children recited these lines, the villagers would emerge from their houses, joining in the ritual by drenching the children with water and bless them with jaggery and coriander seeds. Despite its superstition, the act symbolized a collective hope and reliance on nature's benevolence for sustenance and prosperity
As compared to bustling metro cities, where the essence of summer seems to be lost amidst concrete jungles, where manicured lawns lack the earthy charm of rural landscapes, the countryside offers a sanctuary of natural beauty and tranquility. In these cities, I never witnessed playful splashes, uninhabited romps in the rain, and half-naked children gleefully aiming and throwing stones to dislodge mangoes from trees. Instead, the rain harshly pounded the roads, and the scent of pure air was devoured by pollution. In fact, as summer winds became hotter and harsher, people retreated into air-conditioned cocoons, shielded from nature's pure, raw elements. How science and technology had distanced the people from sensory delights, simplicity, and the authenticity of village life.
In the absence of mango-stained fingers, the heady fragrance of jasmine, I yearned for timeless rituals, sensory delights that connected me with my roots. Amidst the sweltering heat of summer winds and the refreshing rain lay the essence of life’s eternal dance- a fine balance of warmth and coolness, of growth and renewal, joy and sorrow encapsulated in the timeless rhythm of the seasons.
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BIO: Miss Namita Rai is a dedicated and sincere teacher whose passion lies in nurturing young minds and fostering curiosity among her students. With a commitment to education, her aim has always been to encourage students to think beyond the confines of the classroom and to develop critical thinking skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
In addition to her role as an educator, Miss Namita Rai is also a published bilingual poet and writer. Her literary pursuits encompass a wide range of genres, including poetry, memoirs, short stories, articles, and book reviews. Through her writing, she explores diverse themes and experiences, sharing her insights and observations with readers both locally and internationally.
With a strong belief in the power of words to inspire and provoke thought, Miss Namita Rai continues to engage with her dual passions of teaching and writing, making meaningful contributions to the world of education and literature alike.
 

3 comments :

  1. This is a beautiful write-up. Nostagia brings with it a fresh lease of life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome writing.. beautifully penned.. hope to read more of your writings!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thankyou for your kind appreciation

    ReplyDelete

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