18 March 2015

It’s great to chase rainbows

This is the twenty fourth article in a series I am writing for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The series is for children. Adults consider yourselves warned...you might re-discover a child within you! Scroll down for other articles in this series. 

We have all seen rainbows.  Long before we know the science of rainbows, that is how they are produced, they are magical.  Even after we learn how they are made rainbows still delight us. 

Some rainbows are faint and far away but some have really vibrant colors and seem close enough to touch.  This is a story about one of those touchable rainbows. 

It happened in the hills of Nuwara Eliya, a few kilometers off the Ramboda-Nuwara Eliya road.   You could see the place if you are travelling towards Nuwara Eliya as you pass Labukele and approach Kuda Oya.  It’s a vegetable garden hugging the faraway hills, just below the tree line.  People in the area call it Rambodawatte. 

It had rained hard the previous day.  There were enough clouds to indicate that there would be more rain coming that way.  Still, the sun was out.  It was a splendid afternoon.  One minute it was all sky, the next it was sky with a rainbow; a wide arc that came out from beyond the hills across the road and dropped down somewhere near a carrot garden, or seemed to at least.

The little girl who noticed it first was determined to catch the rainbow.  She announced that she was going to do so.  She was old enough to know that you can’t really ‘catch’ a rainbow.  She was too young to know that sometimes what appears to be near is really far away.  Her father told her this but she didn’t want to believe. 

‘Can I go?’ she asked and her father, delighting in his daughter’s delight smiled and said ‘of course’. 

He didn’t ask her, later, if she had indeed caught the rainbow.  He only knew that it had taken the girl longer than she expected to get to the place she believed the rainbow ended and of course that she would have discovered that it was still further away.  He only knew that she took a long, long time to get back. 

There’s so much that’s between where you are right now and the place where one might think the rainbow touches earth.  As you walk towards that point you the excitement of chasing the rainbow might make you miss a lot of things on either side of the path you’ve chosen.  Then again, you might discover a rare flower, be distracted by a birdcall or by any number of things.  You might trip over a rock, slip and fall.  When you get back on your feet the rainbow may have disappeared. 

At some point you will stop.  You might realize that rainbows are for wonderment and not for touch.  If the rainbow has disappeared you might still find what’s before you to be amazingly beautiful.  In any case, as you walk back you’ll notice a lot of things you had missed earlier. 

Rainbows come in many forms.  Some as arcs with colors some without any shape or hue.  We call such rainbows different names:  hope, promises, the future, dreams etc.  We don’t catch these things.  We walk towards them.  We learn a lot along the way.  We get to a point and we see a different world.  Whatever happens we are richer for making that choice to go towards the rainbow. 

Other articles in this series