In the hills where I grew up, rain, first and foremost, meant flood, and when I think of rain even now, it still means a flood for me…a flood of memories.
I was born in a remote village of Parbat, and since my parents wanted me to get a better education than was available in my village, they had sent me to a boarding school in Baglung, the headquarters of Dhaulagiri zone. The school where I studied was far away from home, and I could go home only during long vacations or festivals. Monsoon was much awaited by every single boy and girl in the hostel since it meant the end of the mid-term exams, and the beginning of a one and half month long vacation. My father would come to take me home, and we would cover a five-hour long walk which involved climbing up and down hills and crossing a couple of rivers that could have turned wild after the recent downpour.
Once home, unlike the life as in prison at the hostel, I would be a free bird, and could go wherever I wanted and do whatever I liked.
Monsoon was the time to wake up to the sound of the turtle doves or the pattering of a soft drizzle on the stone roof.
I could literally see the rain begin to fall on the hills of Taare in the east and gradually move towards my village along the hills. Every other day, there would be a huge rainbow that would connect my village to Taare, or to Dhaairing, a village to the south.
It was the time to climb the slippery dudilo trees and savour its ripe black fruits.
It was the time to climb every possible tree we could to find nests, and perhaps eggs in some of them, or even better,some newly hatched birds with soft new wings.
It was time for my largely agricultural village, and my family, to begin ropaai, the planting of paddy saplings. We, children, wanted to help our parents every bit, but now I realize we were less help and more a nuisance. Ropaai days meant special khaaja that included sukkha roti, chaamre, and the mouth watering hot and sour aaluko achaar.
It was the time to run in the rain, being soaked to your skin, slipping and falling umpteens of times.
It was the time to tune into Radio Nepal, the only form of entertainment in those days, and to sing along to the song “Paaniko rimjhim barsatko bela” by Prakash Shrestha.
It was the time to celebrate Sawane sankranti, the most amazing festival for children. We would wander throughout the day to gather all the plants, and herbs and flowers and fruits supposedly needed for the worship in the evening. And, you could hear people shouting “may all the diseases go away,” and feel the thrill when you saw them hurl burning firewood towards the sky and beyond.
Monsoon was also the time when you would celebrate Teej. My phupus would come to their maaiti with all kinds of delicacies as gifts, and you could munch them sitting in a corner. My home was in the hills and the only fruits that would be available during the season were peaches. If I was lucky enough, and this would happen only once in a while, I could even follow my phupus to their homes in the plains and relish mangoes and guavas.
And, as the monsoon gradually came to a halt, it meant the end of the fun filled days. It was time for you to go back to the distant boarding school. Everyone would return with so many cuts and scars all over their bodies, and, of course, with so many stories of adventures and mischief to share with friends.
Monsoon comes every year, and along with it come the flood and the flood of memories …but those fun filled carefree days will never come again.
(Published in ECS Nepal, July 2014)