The end of the rain
1 August 2018
The rain was falling heavily on the roof of the car. From time to time a coconut, its stem loosened from the tree it had clung to, fell onto the roof of the car causing a more audible thud than the falling rain. The air that had recently been hot and heavy grew cooler. The driver turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows. Some rain fell into the car and onto her lap, startling her and making her leave her daydreaming.
She looked around her and her eyes met the landscape of heaped piles of rubbish and slowly filling sewages. The rain had freed the stench of the sewages that had been slightly more discreet earlier. It reached her nostrils and she felt overpowered by the stench. The driver caught her look and reassured her that the pouring rain would soon cleanse the sewage. He smiled at her nodding his head in the typical way that all Indians did, a halfway between a yes and a no that was difficult to decipher for anyone who was not from the country.
The light turned red and the taxi came to a standstill. She looked back at the sewages and the piles of garbage. She still wondered at how she had reached here with what seemed to be no real purpose or mission other than making her father happy. She was not sure this was how it was meant to be. She struggled inwards against the feeling of hopelessness that gnawed at her heart.
Outside beggars were busy grappling with their tatters trying to cover and shield themselves from the pouring rain. Some stood stoically beside the windows of those drivers who had opened them and stonily asked for money, their faces devoid of any sense of expectation of mercy. A few vendors shook some toys and other gadgets in front of the windows, yelling the prices across. Their faces held the hope that some of the children in the back seats would help the parents in the front seat make a positive decision in their favour. She watched as their faces fell when the lights turned green and the cars resumed their rush across the streets.
Somewhere at the back of her mind she could feel an analogy forming between those vendors, the beggars and herself. They were all hoping for something that simply did not seem to be coming their way. She looked out at the beggars making their way through the swerving cars. They seemed in no hurry to get out of the way and there were no policemen coming to mend the situation. It had always surprised her to notice that there were so few policemen at the points of great turbulence although there were several hanging around in groups laughing and exchanging pleasantries where there seemed to be no traffic problems at all.
She smiled a wry smile at the thought that where she had indeed seen a policeman at a point of turbulence where beggars and other vendors had been obstructing traffic, he simply did not seem to be concerned. Another oddity, at least for her, was the regular crossing of cows which made their way across the street oblivious of the traffic. Some of the cows actually simply stayed in the middle of the street and the drivers artfully drove around them thanks no doubt to years of experience doing that. The drivers were not so kind though to the stray dogs which sometimes ended up in the middle of the road or on its sides as roadkill.
Her mind strayed back to the times when she had been musing on the meaning of life and the equivalence of all beings. It had seemed to her earlier that all beings had to be equal for there to be a proper energetic balance in the world. She realised now that in practice it was going to be very difficult to achieve such a state of being because nobody seemed to be willing to consider what they coined as lesser beings as their equal. She realised that she too was not yet at that stage.
It then occurred to her that perhaps beyond the desire of her father, this was what had brought her to this country. Practice what you preach she told herself inwards ironically She had indeed always embraced the theory that all beings were alike but in her daily life in a country where she was not confronted with the reality of all these beings swarming together in the same context it had seemed easier. Now that everything was let loose and seemingly at par, she realised that it was not so easy to live that concept in its entirety.
She thought about the dog she had lost in her old location and how much more it had seemed feasible to consider herself as equal to it while it seemed much more difficult with the dirty stray dogs in this country. She knew that with the practice of the stillness of the mind she could extract herself from the context and reach a feeling of inward peace but somehow she felt that she must go through this sense of uneasiness stirred by the filling sewages and their stench and reach inward peace while experiencing all of this. Perhaps this was one of the reasons she was here, to be at the heart of a turbulent, dirty city and yet feel the sense of inner pervading her.
She giggled at the thought that she might be stuck here a long time as she did not feel capable of attaining that inner peace within this context if she were not to extract herself from it mentally. The rising stench slowly sobered her and she watched again the whizzing landscape of beggars, vendors, piles of rubbish, flowing sewages and cars. The rain had gradually gone down to a trickle and she gratefully noticed that the sewages had not started overflowing. She had heard horror stories of people having to wade through sewage water to reach their destination and she really did not feel up to such a feat.
She relaxed into her seat and stared at the sky which was clearing up seemingly at the same speed that her thoughts were. She felt great satisfaction at having reached the realisation of one of the reasons she was here. There were surely other reasons and she felt that some of them were tied to the acquisition of empirical knowledge and acceptance of some of the theories she had embraced earlier purely in the form of a thought process.
She felt that once she was able to experience these matters and reach the same conclusions as in her thought process, she would no longer have to be in that context because context as a concept would no longer hold any meaning for her. It was a necessary stage in the journey towards identifying within her the traceless and placeless. Just as it was necessary to be in a context that exacerbated something to be able to say that one had truly overcome its effect on oneself, it was also necessary to be in a context that challenged one’s beliefs to be able to say that one truly held those beliefs as valid. She now was on the right path in the journey of self-discovery. Know thyself she thought and within her welled a feeling of having overcome a stage towards that end. She smiled at the sun that peeped from behind the clouds signaling the end of the rain.
Return of the rains – Karunesh