It was a rainy day. And old Mrs. Nair found herself smiling up at the slanted drops striking her window like little bullets of water. At 67 she had seen perhaps as many showers of rain as as she had spent days under the clear sun. She had seen all sorts too – from a light drizzle of a shower that was always accompanied by an abstract pitter-patter that made her hum sometimes, to the savage howling rain that seemed to be bombarding the earth with a fury that reminded her of the white rage of Lord Shiva, a Hindu God that her mother always prayed to.
Her friend Abha, who was turning 70 this June, often took jibes at her childlike attachment to rains. “It comes and goes of it’s own free will and all it leaves behind is muddy puddles and stains on your saree – what about it could you possibly hold dear?” she would say, wearing a slight frown on her serious face that made her eyes even smaller than usual.
But Mrs. Nair didn’t mind her. She would just laugh the question off or ask one of her own. She didn’t think she could explain it to her at all. She hardly knew why the rain excited her so often. Yet that was how it had always been.
As a kid she would run squealing into the rain - jumping, swirling, dancing till the last drop fell. Sometimes she’d tire out before the rain and collapse flat on the ground drenched to her bones. She’d smile up at the sky, trying to keep her eyes open as rainwater broke through her lashes.
When she couldn’t be soaking herself in her beloved rain, she would smile at it through rattling bus windows or latex coverings of auto-rickshaws. And she always stuck her hands out with her tiny smile to feel the falling water, as if to welcome it to her home on the land.
She would laugh at the rain as it hit some part of her from under her umbrella before trying to cover herself up better – only to find another part in the path of the falling drops. She’d shake her big head and laugh again, doing away with the umbrella and holding her arms out like a mother to a playful kid.
But she was old now, too old. Kids called her ‘the grim old hag who pretended to read books through she couldn’t see the letters any more’. Her best friend was turning 70 and her husband was dead. Mrs. Nair was too old to be loving the rain.
Huffing lightly in irritation, she closed her old copy of Pride and Prejudice after having dog-eared the page she was on and grabbed her walking stick. She trotted right upto the window, looking at the rain without her characteristic smile.
She stared for a couple of seconds before the windows opened inside her mind, taking her back to her childhood home where she had once stared at the rain just like she did now.
It had been an hour or two past midnight when the rain came. She had been staring out of her open windows since long before it did. The little girl had been sick and quiet that day – her mother had died praying. It was an untimely death but she’d soon figured out what it meant.
She’d shivered slightly as a gust of wind had blown against her small frame, bringing her the rain. But instead of smiling, she’d sent out a whisper that day. Her mother had always told her that God made the skies rain and turned the dead into stars. He kept them close, the ones who remained good. Her mother had always been good so she’d sent for her mother’s God who made it rain.
Mrs. Nair could never quite remember what she had whispered on her mother’s day of dying but she did remember the thunder that had roared back at her. She had kept whispering, the skies had kept thundering and the rain had kept on falling through the night. And just like that, morning had come.
That night, something in the little girl had changed. The rain had brought solace and shown her to the morning sky. An irrational bond had been made between a rational girl and the falling drops of water. The latter had come alive in her heart and she had felt a presence that brought her peace.
Later in her life when Mrs. Nair sometimes tried to place herself between theism and atheism, she found herself thinking of that night. She did not believe in Lord Shiva or Lord Indra, the God of rain and the world for her worked purely on chance and probability, but that one night when the rain had fallen by her window and thunder had rolled from the skies against her soft whispers, she had felt a presence she could not shake. It would not let her choose atheism because a part of her believed someone had rained down by her bedroom window.
Maybe the rain had brought her the dead, maybe it had brought her God Himself, or maybe she was just a terrified child in need of courage who had sought comfort in the downpour – she could not figure it out then and she could not figure it out now.
All Mrs. Nair did know by now was that the rain that had come knocking on her window on that fateful night had brought her a new day and some hope. So as she finally opened her window to let her visitor in, she whole-heartedly smiled.
Ten minutes later, she shut her door behind her and walked out without her stick. The window just wasn’t enough sometimes.