It’s a petrichor morning. The magical medley of wet earth scents invigorates. I breathe deeply. Even the alluring aroma of freshly brewed ginger tea pales in comparison. It’s a day to step out, to open my arms and gather the tidings of the early rains and hold them close to my heart.
Strangely, the koel is silent today. Bathed at dawn, her madness has been mitigated. Pacified, she sits benumbed, behind a tapestry of mango leaves, her crimson irises drinking in the wet nakedness around her. The rain has stolen her voice. The squirrels are out though, running up light poles, chasing each other on the boundary wall, scampering across the lawn, and leaping from branch to branch.
A speck appears from nowhere on the page I handwrite this post on, its stillness misleading. If my alert eye had not spotted its almost invisible movement I wouldn’t have known that it was a breathing, living being. Afraid that my breath will blow it away, I hold it for as long as I can. It stands, almost lifeless, on invisible legs, unaffected by the flight of my pen on the paper, or the black trails it leaves behind or the smell of ink. Suddenly, it shoots up, a tiny tornado, if there could ever be one, its miniscule wings in rapid motion, making me recoil. I am shocked by the energy in its itsy-bitsy body. Yet, I muse, how gentle must be the fingers that shaped this mite’s wings, how full of love! Gratitude wells up. Such wondrous beings inhabit the Universe.
The sun peeps out, looking to its right and left. The coast is clear for it to emerge. As the rays fall on the mango tree, they wake up the koel from her momentary stupor. Her insane call ruptures the serenity of the nippy morning. She is unmindful of the discordant note she strikes. She revels in her lunacy.
The cool breeze causes the strands of my hair to streak across my face, creating a trellis, veiling my view. The world starts looking different, striated. The frangipani tree, under which I sit on an iron bench, sways gently as its blooms drop down one by one, like parachutes, to kiss the earth and perish, as they emit a powerful citrusy fragrance.
Soon the grass is strewn with white plumeria–some looking up at the sky, their open yellow cores vulnerable to the sorcery of the elements. Some blooms point at the clouds with the tips of their stems, their faces buried in grass, shying away from the sun. Some lie on their sides beside felled leaves, toasted brown by the sun, as if knowing that they will soon merge with the soil and return home.
There’s the breeze again! It shakes the droplets of water off the leaves of the frangipani tree and I raise my chin to welcome the shower. “Stay!” I implore. “Stay awhile.” I know it won’t. It’s such a vagabond. Its wanderlust won’t permit it to do more than traipse a bit, and twist and turn crazily. And then, the compulsive pilgrim will be on its way, ignoring my pleas. I take a deep breath, and fill myself up with its bohemian spirit.
It’s futile to expect the rains to linger. They’ve arrived a trifle too early, fickle guests, whose bags stay packed, just inside the door, ready to leave at will. I prepare myself for their departure. The flicker of hope always hides within it the possibility of disappointment.
I could sit on the wet bench forever observing the tremulous dance of the leaves of grass. I could listen till eternity to the ballad of the bulbuls or the ode to the rains composed collectively by the sunbirds, the mynahs, the sparrows, the wagtails, the fan-tailed birds and the Bharadwaj. I could sit here and write till my fingers protest.
But, the mundane waits. It needs to be attended to. In the neighbourhood, someone is frying puris. The sizzle of the oil and the aroma of a spicy curry mingle with the air. My reverie is broken. Petrichor. It had cast a spell on me. I’ve inhaled it. I am petrichor. I am the speck. I am rain. I am the earth. I’m intoxicated. Words flow.