When the Rains Come

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I visited my parents' village in India a couple of months ago. Call it an endless summer, climate change, or even wrath of god, but they too are threatened by drought. The topic of discussions at the local barber-shops, after the customary jabs at corrupt politicians, is always that of insufficient rains. My parents, who had experienced the terrible droughts of the 80s, look up at the skies with fresh worry-lines on their faces. The constant thought of the dwindling water supply occupies their minds. Then one day, the skies opened up.

Cool, blessed sheets of water poured down from the skies. There were smiles everywhere, as people drenched in the downpour. No one complained about the potholes that filled up with the rainwater, making it dangerously impossible to differentiate the road from pits, or the sudden explosion in the mosquito population. Flowers bloomed, mushrooms sprouted overnight, and songs of nightingales filled the evening air. The red soil, that had baked for months under the unrelenting sun, feasted on the water and turned soft like putty. The familiar aroma of the first rains of the summer overpowered our senses. It was all heavenly.

The other day, the same delicious aroma of fresh rains hit me as I walked to my car in the morning. My mind raced with the possibility that finally there might be rains coming to our town. But it was not to be this time. It was a leaky sprinkler on a neighbor's dying lawn.

I, too, then looked up at the blue skies, fresh worry-lines forming on my face. "One of these days," I wished. "One of these days, the rains will come. We will hear the drum of the rain drops on our roofs and admire the muddling of our windows by the dripping water. There will be puddles for our children to jump into, and the aroma of damp pine needles will fill our senses, too. One of these days, this drought will end."

With a Perspective, this is Bhaskar Sompalli.


Bhaskar Sompalli is a scientist and a blogger living in the East Bay.