For any coastal town, the monsoon rains are manna from heaven. The first whiff of the moist wind brings in the life to our precious crops. It is not just the crops; those winds heal our bruised selves, both inside and out after the brutal summer heat.
Monsoon is also the time my wife rejoices the most with every spell of rainfall. In her view, her kitchen garden in the balcony of our apartment is more ‘alive.’ It is amazing what this woman could do with a 400sq.ft balcony space and a set of books on gardening. Monsoons are special to me because of the extensive kappa(tapioca) meals after the yield. And I must say, the magic of her hands are beyond narration.
Monsoon mornings are the time for prolonged reading and unlimited Kattan kappi (black coffee) in glass tumblers that my wife serves with much fuss. To get to that phase of my life, I have decades of drudgery left. If I could get over with these two decades, or maybe three; depends on my capability perhaps.
The world of words
My life as a journalist came with a fair share of rewards, the biggest one being my life-partner. It also gave me a sense of empowerment and social responsibility. The life that I have today is the one that I had dreamt of a decade ago.
As the only man in the midst of women in the family (mother, wife and two daughters), I have become more sensitive to their thoughts and needs. Now, all it takes is a change in their eyebrow pattern to understand what goes on in their minds. Each of them has inspired my way with the words, for which I am truly grateful.
My professional life is not as complicated as you think. Correction, my job was not complicated. I had a pleasant journey reporting from the fields- a satisfying one until the world decided to embrace the concept of post-truth. Ever since the growing sense of exasperation within my professional circle has become stronger.
At times I wish I could live in the world of my 6-year old where everything is either black or white. With the emergence of different hues of grey, I do not know what kind of grey portrayal my words disclose. As the lines blur, I find my steady oars slipping from my hands into the water darkened with disinformation and misrepresentation.
I wish facts were as bare as the monsoon winds, as reliable as the assailing showers those winds bring, its impact visible even to the visionless, like the mornings after a heavy tropical thunderstorm.
On one monsoon morning, when the very kind south-west winds enthralled our town with their gracious dance, I set out to complete my assignment. I was to meet Reshmi at a baker joint; who would later take me to the victim my story was about.
I first met Reshmi through a mutual friend. Reshmi always had a divine aura about her, the kind that made every passer-by look at her in awe. For the type of tribulations she had undergone, I always wonder how she maintained her spirits high, all day, every day.
Within her mesmerizing smile, there hid a hint of sadness that glimmered in her eyes, and only those close to her could read it. As we exchange pleasantries and settle down for coffee, she enquires about my work, and I tell her about the frustration in my mind.
‘Well it bothers me too,’ she trails with her radiant smile brightening up the entire room. ‘It is annoying when you spend hours immersed in your morning paper and when you close, you do not know if you have read the right content.’
I prod her to share more of her thoughts, and she begins her sermon, something that I enjoy and yet like to mock.
‘The other day, T, (She always addressed me with the first letter of my last name) we were driving and my 12-year-old despite repeated warnings flung an empty carton onto to the road. This behaviour in spite of me slowing down close to the bin and asking her to get out of the car to discard it.’
I was curious to know where she was arriving.
‘It was not a big crime by Indian standards,’ she continued. ‘But if someone were to question her, she would blame the wind.’
‘Sorry,’ I say.
‘It is a scenario in which she could say that she had taken care to dispose the carton with care and yet it landed on the road with a strong wind.’
‘So?’ I ask, a little perplexed.
‘We are a society of, well as my 12-year-old puts it, losers. We have failed at multiple levels and hence the blame game. Well, in my opinion, the truth is not a prism. You cannot have multitude angels and myriad hues.’
I couldn’t say I agreed with her, but let her continue.
‘Well, in yesterday’s incident, I failed as a parent to correct my daughter, and my daughter failed as a citizen to keep her streets clean. Yet, we both complain time and again about our inefficient municipal workers and curse them to hell when they go on a strike’.
‘It is a similar scenario everywhere, don’t you think,’ she continues without waiting for my response. ‘From the sweeper who does a shabby work to the ward representative who is immune to erroneous work, we have all failed.’
I couldn’t help but agree with what she was saying.
She continues between sips of her coffee. ‘From the employee who manipulates his medical bills to the corporate bigwigs who abuse natural water bodies to build structures that smear our beautiful skyline, we have all failed.’
‘From the greedy vendor who uses Feviryl as a substitute for milk and sells the chemical- laden tea to children, to the governments that sells perennial rivers to the Cola companies, we are a society of collective failure headed towards collapse.’
‘Do you get me, T? The more complex our lies get, the more variation there is to reality and for that matter, even validity. To put it in your style, the more the vicious roots of dishonesty spreads, the more alternatives there are to the hues of grey.’
While I let that thought sink in, she wipes her mouth with a tissue. ‘Brace yourself, brother, the victim you are about to meet is in bad shape.’
As we step out, the storm clouds darken overhead, and the dense winds strangulate our respiratory tract. Praying for quick relief, we run to our cars.