As we reach the end of the rainy season, it is time to look at life during this period: the rains which we loved as kids and the things we did in the season. The things we miss, as we are away from the falling rains in a faraway land. — Armstrong Vaz, Qatar
The rainy season starts in June and ends in October. Rains, starting in the last week of May, bring with them a respite from the summer heat. May is the period when the school holidays end and it is back again to school for the children.
The rainy season is on its last leg as we approach October. It is time to say goodbye to the rains as we head towards the middle of the month. It is time for the Goan farmers to collect the paddy from the fields. Paddy fields which turned green at the start of the rainy season in June have now turned golden.
The rainy season blesses Mother Nature with an abundance of water and the greenery in the rainy season is worth going miles to see. The vast swathes of green paddy fields are sometimes mistaken as grass by an alien visitor and the reverse is also true when vast tracks of barren lands of wild grass are taken as paddy fields.
Cattle graze on the grass as rains lash day in day out in the rainy season. Raindrops, which many Indians miss in faraway lands. Rainy days when floods come calling in and with the floods follows the inundation of the paddy fields. Flood water overflows the roads and makes them unsafe for driving.
Floods, which gave us an eagerly awaited school holiday. Rainy days, when we use to sing the Marathi poem, urging the rain to come. Rain, not just in a trickle but in a gush to flood the plains.
The Marathi primary school opposite my house has since ceased to function, making way for a government-run library. But like me and many of my neighbors and classmates in school, we share many a childhood memories at the Marathi primary school, although I did not attend it myself.
Breaking the roof tiles with a cricket ball, playing pebbles on the school wall and inside the gallery. It was also an indoor cricket stadium for us and sometimes an indoor football pitch all rolled into one.
The Marathi school also dished out our first lesson of voting at the age of 18, ink on our fingers which we showed to our friends and well wishers that we had voted for the first time.
The first rains made football a slippery exercise in the barren paddy fields but then falling on the ground had its own thrill. The continuous rains gave us extra stamina to play football. And then who can forget the sliding tackle, which came about not out of design but through the sheer slippery surface, which gave us the biggest thrill during rainy day football.
On the cricket front, overcast weather meant that the ball would swing in the air and that was the only occasion, we could swing the ball and believe that we were playing in overcast English conditions.
The rainy season was the time to burn the cashew nuts over charcoal. The odor of burning cashew seeds, sending odourous messages to neighbors far and wide.
With many families shifting to gas stoves over burning wood, the thrill of having cashew nuts from the charcoal is lost these days.
The first showers of the season invariably came during the last week of May or the first week of June. It was the time that we were getting ready for the school season and we eagerly awaited the rains but detested the thought of returning to our school after a long holiday of close to two months.
Tradition has it that it is healthy to receive the first rain on your head. How far it holds good, I have my doubts.
The first rains bring with them a gush of wind. A gush of wind, which used to bring quite a few mangoes tumbling to the ground. My favorite hunt was for the Mancura (a variety of mango). My highest catch in one day was a dozen of them.
The rainy season was a time to catch fish in the ponds after draining the water and keeping it at bay through muddy embankments. I for one entered the muddy water once to catch fish and have never experienced such a thrill again. The freshwater fish which I took home as part of my share, was not to my liking nor of a flavor that my families relished.
The rainy season was the time when the cow dung smell from the nearby cowshed became unbearable. A time, when friends and relatives gave our place a skip. Their vehicles had to be washed if they visited our place.
The first rains were also a time for catching frogs. Frog legs which I tasted for the first time as a teenager, and then fell for, only to give the practice a skip after realizing the damage the killing of frogs was doing to environment.
Armed with a torch, knife and plastic bag we accompanied the seasoned campaigners to the traditional hideout of the frogs. The croaking of the frogs made our hunting expedition easier.
The rainy season was the time when the ladies’ umbrellas came out in force. The multi-colored umbrellas were a sight to behold. Men came out with their long black umbrellas. The workers wore special rain protection made from coconut palm leaves while working in the fields.
The lightning which came also used to send a chill down our spines and the memory of a young couple dying in our paddy field haunted us whenever lighting struck.
The multi-colored rainbow making its presence in the sky was another sight we used to behold. A rare occurrence, and as and when it happened in the sky we used to shout in excitement.
The snakes were also driven out of their habitat when rain water entered their holes. They were sighted on the roads and even entered houses.
The winds also brought trees down and blocked traffic, and fire brigade personnel would come calling in to clear the roads and sometimes come to the aid of people whose houses were damaged by falling trunks and branches.
The rainy season is a time for festivals, and one that is eagerly awaited is the feast of St John the Baptist. During the festival it is the practice for newly married couples to hand a bottle or two of coconut feni, a local liquor, to the village boys celebrating the feast.
It was a time for young children to have a taste of cashew feni. Feni burned over a candle and given in a tablespoon drove away the cold blues. Cashew feni, is still a medicine used to get rid of colds and coughs for many a Goan in the rainy season.
The celebration ended with a litany and whatever money was left from the donations were gathered and then given to the local church or the local clubs in the evening
In the rainy season the beaches become deserted and so are the restaurants on the beach. Only a few functions; Foreign tourists too are few in number, with the sun playing hide and seek in the rainy season.
As we travel far away from our native land, we miss the greenery, the people and all the things we relished in our childhoods. But then you have to forsake some things in pursuit of new experience and challenges.
Armstrong Vaz, Qatar
Author: Armstrong Vaz- Qatar