The nights are wintry still but spring is here. The long nights are shortening and, in a month, the days’ hours will outnumber those of nights. Even if one can feel the beautifully soothing breeze of early spring, nature remains parched. The city losing its greenery, what’s left of it, every day, the top soil has come loose and when one breathes, one takes in part of that erstwhile top soil as dust, a desert-like carpet on the already suffering collective lungs of the people. Add to that the incessant road works, construction clash-bang-clamour, the exhaust fumes from running engines that are going nowhere in a hurry. A ‘dustbowl’ is the sprawling metropolis where quick locomotion is a distant mirage and the eventual slow progress is hard-fought and only gained after long and sapping battles, every goddamned day.
My eyes look up at the sky, searching and searching for a harbinger of the first rain of spring. The daytime sky is too blue with some hints of wispy whites to give any hope of relief to the thirsting heart and there are too many stars on display at night for there to be hope of a blackened sky, rumbling clouds, a nor’wester, maybe, in the coming day. A downpour at the culmination of a severe wind dance? Rain washing away the dirt? Too much to expect? At least a measly shower then.
If it rains tomorrow or in a few days’ time, it’ll be the first rain of spring. The streets will be wet, albeit a brown muddy film but still a watery grave for all the dust floating about. Even if for a few hours, the dusty terrain that seemed eternal till the last rays of the sun before the clouds gathered, will get respite from the choking aridity, the all-consuming dust, the trees that still remain, will breathe and sigh in relief, not knowing the ephemeral nature of rain during springtime. Nature will be shivering in her watery cloak like a woman clad in a wet sari after a dip in the pond.
When it finally rains, nature will have ‘a touch of grey’, it’ll be a time to pause and look at things that were invisible in the sun.
People will have to go to work still; they will, and with the initial euphoria over, with a look of melancholy. Like me, they would wish they were someplace else.
16th February 2017
© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017