Summer 2024: Santosh Bakaya

Santosh Bakaya
Dissonance and Consonance of Summer 

There is a cascade of Gulmohar flowers on the old, rusted, dented Maruti 800 of the neighbor.  A profusion of red on white. I wonder why he has retained it, although he owns a brand new car now. Maybe for old times’ sake.  Magically, the car looks bright - as bright as the faces of the school kids having their surprise summer break- because of the intense heat wave.
 Capacious clouds cheerfully cruise crisscrossing the sky and a light drizzle starts falling. 
Ah, what a heartwarming sight! A scorching hot day is miraculously cooled, punctuated with excited peacock calls. Platoons of pesky parakeets take off every few minutes into the sky, get lost in the clouds, swoop down again, and settle down on their perches.

A sudden gust of wind zooms past and a standee falls flat, almost crushing an emaciated cat. But she is saved, not from the heat wave, but from death. With an anguished meow; she scurries away in a safe corner, licking her wounds. An old man passing by wipes beads of sweat from his wrinkled forehead, glaring at the scorching sun and looking kindly at the just-saved cat.
 But the cat is a wicked one. She dashes off towards a spot, from where she growls at the nest hanging precariously from the discarded cooler in the neighbour’s house. The pigeon couple hovers protectively over the nest. The cooler is silent, but the feline is not. She is growling in anticipation of food, but the neighbour’s son shoos it away. But the overhead sun has again come back.

The month of May in Jaipur is the season of amaltas (Indian Laburnum), gul mohar, lots of blazing sunshine, and dust-storms, malevolent enough to destroy thatched huts, and trees. 
 A soft, soothing lullaby drifts from across a shack near the construction site. A group of women, flamboyantly attired in ghagra choli vociferously beat drums hanging around their necks, going from house to house asking for money in loud voices. The sound of the lone koel gets lost in the drum beats, so does the sound of the lullaby. There is life everywhere, dissonance and consonance go hand in hand.
 Coleridge had rightly said," No sound is dissonant which tells of life.” 
There is vibrant life in every mote, every rustling leaf, every pulsating petal, and every sizzling stamen. There is musicality in the sounds of summer and a resplendence in its sights.
 Kids romp under the protective yellow canopy of the dangling Amaltas, befooling the rays of the scorching sun, sabotaging its plan of singeing the ground. Round and round they go, as the loo becomes hotter.  I recall a friend who always used to carry an onion to school, to ward off the evil ‘loo’. But the 'loo' has its own unique sound, and it comes stuffed with memories- of nimbu paani, lassi, of water melon juice lovingly prepared by dad and mom, when we returned from school in scorching summer months.

Then came the summer break - what a melodious sound the very mention of it created! Loud screams, louder guffaws, indoor games and late evening bluster and bonhomie!
Indeed, No sound is dissonant which tells of life.

 The shades of green add color and coolant to the tired eyes and sweaty souls.  
I am reminded of the ice-creams that granny slurped in those long gone summer months and dad lovingly asked her not to make those sounds. But she insisted in flawless Kashmiri that one cannot enjoy homemade ice-cream without making those sounds!  Sometimes on a blazing hot day she would go where the road was rutted by the heavy wheels of tractors and camel carts, and there was a profusion of hillocks on both sides of the road. There, she would sit on one of the hillocks, listening to the rustling sounds of a scintillating memory collage of her homeland, Kashmir. Scenes would come to life -crystal-clear lakes reflecting the cerulean blue skies, blooming gardens splashed with myriad hues, and mountains draped in a verdant green outfit. Nature, a proud fashionista, flaunting its assets, unabashedly. Her ears would be riveted to the honking Geese, cuckoos calling, golden orioles’ trilling, and boatmen singing, in a haunting pitch. 

"Granny, do you know, the dust storms make the hillocks disappear? What if you had disappeared along with the hillock?"

Yanked from her reverie, she would throw back her head and laugh, and laugh. I believe that the sound of that sing-song laughter is still ricocheting in the Jaipur air.

 “I am too deeply entrenched in my roots to be uprooted.” She would remark with a far off look. 

 As I cap my pen, wiping beads of sweat from my forehead (there has been a power outage) I hear my mom’s voice, "Baby, do drink that nimbu paani lying on the dining table."

The sound of my mom’s voice is there. But does it tell of life? 

Yes, it tells of a life - that was!

I head towards the kitchen to make nimbu paani. 
A sudden drizzle has again started – ah, what a refreshing sound! 

A flash of lightning 
Raindrops on the window sill 
A happy songster trills


  1. Beautifully written <3

  2. Jayachandran RamachandranJune 12, 2024 at 11:25 AM

    You hold the reader enthralled till the last word and beyond.

  3. Jayachandran RamachandranJune 12, 2024 at 11:25 AM

    You hold the reader enthralled till the last word and beyond.

    1. Thanks 🙏 Jayachandran Ramachandran


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