If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Jul 3, 2009

Save it for a Rainy Day

If it was raining when you went to sleep, you prayed. Very hard that it would rain thru the night. At the intervals when you woke up during the night and heard the heavens continuing their downpour you kept your fingers crossed. When the newspaper was not outside the door like it was every morning., you knew you were almost there. So you got into your Duckback raincoat and went to school and halfway there you met Joe-Boy who was on his way back and he gave you the news that it was a rain holiday. Thank you God. That’s why I believe in you. Not for the ascension and the holy trinity and the sacrament of confession. But because you can change a day on which we had a Marathi test scheduled, which I was going to fail in , into a holiday. Now I promise I’ll study for it and never leave things till the last minute again. But first let me get home and change. Out of the uniform and into old clothes that nobody minded you getting dirty.
Then onto the World Cup. A football game played on the road. Which by then would be under six inches of water. So the ball floated. When their was imminent danger of a goal being scored it wasn’t against the rules to kick a spray of water into the potential scorers eyes effectively qualifying him for dark glasses and a white cane.
You had to watch out for the gutters on either side of the road whose 3’ depth was made invisible due to the law of physics that says” Water finds it’s own level”. If you didn’t you were suddenly dwarfed and kicking against concrete instead of the ball.
The football game done we’d be back home scrounging. Scrounging for the motor boat we’d bought at the Bandra fair. The one with the candle in the middle that went round and round in circles. The candle was lifted off the altar and cut into sections that would fit into this yacht that Onassis would have been proud off.[ When he was 3 ] A cigarette lighter would be begged for after a million attempts to light a matchsticks from a box that had more water in it than the Niagara. If you couldn’t find your motor boat then you looked for fallen coconut tree branches. With your mothers sharpest kitchen knife [ which she didn’t know had left the hallowed premises of her kitchen] you cut of the boat shaped bit from the end of the branch. With paper and cello tape you sealed off the back ‘ giving you a boat more seaworthy than the Titanic. Which you launched in the gutter. Before you had a chance to crack the champagne across the bow she’d be away. With you behind her. For that gentle nudge to keep her clear of sticks and stones and other assorted gutter filling debris. The gutter ran below the driveway of the building. Into that tunnel of darkness she went while you ran across and waited on the other side. After ten minutes you realized she’d got stuck. After having failed to find a stick long enough to reach her from either end, you decided to go down with your ship in the best traditions of sailing men the world over. But even though you went down into the gutter your 15” shoulders refused to get into a 12” drain pipe.
The rain would start to ease of. Soon it stopped and you would wait by a tree. Along came Clara and friends happy that the rain went in and the sun came out. Only to find that vigorously shaken trees dislodged a lot of water even when it wasn’t raining.
The day would end. The rain would end. Three days later you would be looking at the Marathi test paper and praying for a miracle while deep down you knew that two miracles in three days was asking for too much, even though you’d promised to only look at the board when Miss Nigli’s back was turned to write on it and not at Miss Nigli’s…….. back.


Smiling Dolphin said...

such wonderful imagery , excellent post - i fell into one of these gutters walking home from school in santa cruz when i was twelve, brand new school books and all ....

seaferns said...

your writing has the ability to transport me back in time to the days of my youth. the area on the June Blossoms corner of Hill Road turned into one such fast flowing cataract (i dunno whether it was only rain water or something more dubious as well) which never failed to ensure that the Stanis-claws crowd reached home 10 minutes late during lunch break. those who didn't have a boat from the fair or a coconut branch, merely took off a slipper (school allowed them during the monsoons, i think) which rode the falling water with the aplomb of a Bondi born Australian!

Nima said...

Can't stop laughing Clem. Did you have a chat with Aaron before writing the first bit? You can't imagine the drama in our house everyday - Nathan's litanies for rain (water shortage, dry lakes etc.) and Aaron's litany for rain holiday. And no amount of EYE contact from my side is solving the issue.

Anonymous said...

Lovely... We tore pages off old notebooks to make boats... sometimes we used empty "ship" matchboxes.

patrice fernandes said...

enjoyed reading that, Clement. It brought back memories of my brothers sailing those very same boats with the candles in them. Also of us making paper boats which we launched with glee in the shallower gutters. Of course, being girls, we NEVER went down into the gutters if the boats sank because of the flimsy material used.
Do you remember the boat-shaped bark(?) of the coconut trees? Those too were used in our fleet.
And as for falling into gutters? I remember walking in the middle of the road and just seeing an umbrella bobbing about in one such flooded gutter...took some time to realise that there was someone under it!!
Keep up the hilarious articles.

Zillion 2nd Innings said...

Mighty interesting blog!