25 October 2018

There are games you can play with the rain

Several years ago, I wrote a regular column for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The editor of JEANS, Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna now handles the 'Littlestars' tabloid distributed with 'The Sunday Morning'. This is the second article for Littlestars.  Scroll down to find the full series of articles written for JEANS and the first of this new series.

It’s pretty obvious when it rains. We see it, we hear it and we even feel it. It’s not like a rainbow or an amazing cloud formation. Such things can of course be seen, but sometimes they need to be shown. ‘Look!’ you’ll tell someone, or ‘look!’ someone will tell you. 

It’s different with the rain.  The rain announces itself. It leaves marks, almost as though it is saying, ‘Hey! Look, I’ve arrived, I am here!’ And as though to convince anyone who is reluctant to admit that it is raining, the rain screams and shouts, and leaves unmistakable signs of its passing. 

Think of floods. Even pictures of paddy fields, roads and even houses under water or almost submerged tell us something about how much of rain has fallen. Even if it is not raining that hard, if we look around carefully, we can see what rain does. 

You’ll see umbrellas. The traffic will be slower than usual because people tend to drive more carefully when it is raining. If you are inside a car, you’ll see windshield wipers at work. You’ll see how the road ahead is all blurry until the wipers swipe away the water. In an instant you’ll see the windshield covered in raindrops. It will be blurry again. Blur-clear, blur-clear, blur-clear. 

People walk faster when it rains, even if they carry umbrellas. Those who don’t have umbrellas, run. People at a bus-stop almost involuntarily jump back when a vehicle passes, not wanting their clothes splashed with mud.  Some shops by the road side are hidden by large screens, put up by shop owners to shield their wares from the rain.  It’s as if the city has been dressed differently.

Even if you’ve slept through the rain, you can’t mistake the signs the rain has left before. Think of overnight rain. The next morning could be dismal. Even if it was all clear and the sun was out, the world has changed quite a bit, if you really think about it. 

The grass is greener, isn’t it? It might look as though someone has laid a fresh coat of tar on the roads.  They would look blacker than usual.  The dust smells different.  If the rain has been particularly heavy, you’ll see the difference in the trees. There’s be water dripping from the ends of leaves. The trunk and the branches would be a shade or two darker. 

The rain leaves scatters leaves and branches all over the place, and you can never miss the puddles. 

But then again, you might not notice any of these things.  Why? Well, because you’ve seen rain before. You’ve seen the signs. It’s all normal. The things described above all all ‘normal’. That’s what happens when it rain, after all. You are right. It’s normal.

There could be another reason. Maybe we don’t notice things enough when it is not raining. If we noticed the color of the grass before it begins to rain, then we will probably notice that the rain changes the color of things. Even the earth will look different. The tiles on a roof don’t look the same when there’s sunshine, when it is raining and when the rain has ceased. 

If you were observant, you’ll notice that the rain changes the garden, the roadways and the sidewalks in various ways. Things that weren’t there such as leaves, dead branches, puddles and even colors, suddenly begin to appear. Things that were there, such as dust for example, get washed away. Cars look cleaner when it rains, don’t they? 

It’s as though someone had decided he or she would use the entire world around you like a canvas to paint something new. Well, you can be that person. No, you can’t make it rain, but maybe you can take out two pieces of paper and start to draw. On one you can draw what you think something would look like before it rains. It could be a garden or a roadway or anything you like. Then you can draw the same scene, but in a situation where it is raining or it has rained.  

Maybe you don’t like drawing. Maybe you like to think of sounds. If that’s the case think of what you’ll hear when it’s not raining and then think of what kind of music the rain makes. Maybe you don’t really like music. Well, then just close your eyes and imagine. 

What’s rain like? What is it like when it is not raining? Think about it.


Articles for THE NATION
A puddle is a canvas
Venus-Serena tied at love-all
Some jokes are not funny
There's an ant story waiting for you
And you can be a rainbow-maker
Trees are noble teachers
On cloudless nights the moon is a hole
Gulp down those hurtful words
A question is a boat, a jet, a space-ship or a heart
Quotes can take you far but they can also stop you
No one is weak
The fisherman in a black shirt
Let's celebrate Nelli and Nelliness
Ready for time travel?
Puddles look back at you, did you know?
What's the view like from your door?
The world is rearranged by silhouettes
How would you paint the sky?
It is cool to slosh around
You can compose your own music
Pebbles are amazing things
You can fly if you want to
The happiest days of our lives
So what do you want to do with the rain?
Still looking for that secret passage?
Maybe we should respect the dust we walk on
Numbers are beautiful 
There are libraries everywhere 
Collect something crazy
Fragments speak of a thousand stories 
The games you can and cannot play with rice
The magic of the road less-traveled
Have you ever thought of forgiving?
Wallflowers are pretty, aren't they?
What kind of friend do you want to be? 
Noticed the countless butterflies around you?
It's great to chase rainbows
In praise of 'lesser' creatures 
A mango is a book did you know?
Expressions are interesting things
How many pairs of eyes do you need?
So no one likes you?
There is magic in faraway lights
The thambilil-seller of Giriulla
When people won't listen, things will
Lessons of the seven-times table


Pamodhi Kuruppu said...

Everytime it rains, it is a new experience. Sometimes soft. Sometimes loud. Sometimes soundless. Fierce. It has even patterns noh. Sometimes drops fall sideways. Straight. I think its always new. :)