The Indian Night Queen and Jasmine Vine

Update for Week ended 3 August 2012

The rains were lashing on the window. The evening looked like dusk. The damp air smelt good, as Smita looked out of the window and up at the storm clouds. The grey clouds were gnarled and churning about – and she felt her cheeks get wet. At first she thought it was the spray from the rain, but then she noticed that the window was shut down. She took in a long breath, pursed her lips and let the tears flow out. The rains always brought out the emotions within her. Her last monsoons were in a far away land – in Poona. She had seen the “first” clouds of the pre-monsoon showers build up from their rooftop home. She had immediately rushed to the kitchen to rustle up a quick snack – some chickpea flour, some seasoning, a few carom seeds, and water. She then quickly sliced onions and potatoes, the vegetables she had in her larder. And set the wok on the gas stove, filling it 1/3 way up with vegetable oil. Her kettle was turned on to boil some water and she hand crushed an inch of ginger to pulp and added it the water. She let the tea leaves boil in it for a while. She looked out of the window and saw Shekhar’s motorbike. She set the kitchen table with 2 mugs and the plateful of the fried snacks she had just prepared and opened the kitchen door that led out to the terrace. On the terrace was her version of a kitchen garden. Pots and pots of plants lined the edge of the terrace. There were the vibrant bougainvillea, pots of rose bushes, lilies and the one closest to her bedroom window were her favourite night queen and the jasmine. There was something mystical about of the evening perfumes that permeated from these vines – and the smells mingled into a cocktail and when it wafted into her room through the wet vetiver screens, the perfume was earthy and yet quite out of this world. The skies had darkened and Smita ran out to quickly gather the tray of potato wafers that she had left out to dry, as well as the glass jars of sweet mango pickle. As she rushed back, she could smell the fresh smell of the rains, the wet earth and also felt a drop or two on her blouse sleeve. The water drops felt so cool and relaxing on the hot and humid day. And then the breeze started blowing, warm in the beginning, but quickly cooling. She sat under the awning outside the kitchen door as Shekhar joined her. He was the middle born and had returned from college. Both mother and son settled down to their cups of tea and hot pakoras as they watched the heavens descend. The cool rains and gusty winds sprayed Smita’s face and she enjoyed it, as she used the end of her saree, Pallav, to wipe her face. Shekhar laughed.

The D Boyz also gazed at the skies and saw the gathering grey clouds. The monsoons were here, and yet the rains were not enough. This week was different, as the Meteorology   office predicted some not good news. But as is the wont, they were always wrong, as the rains descended upon D Street everyday of the week. And this cheered the Boyz quite a bit each day as they cheered their SENSEX up each day. So the week the SENSEX perk up each day from last week’s 16839 to 17167….. There were some skids, as the Boyz walked on the slippery street, but overall, they too welcomed the rains.

But this time around there was no laugh. Her Pallav was in her hand as she wiped her face, not of the rain spray. She bit her lips, blinked a few times, drew in a big breath again, and turned around. And she almost bumped into Ron. He had 2 potted plants in his hands. Ron was at least a foot taller than Smita and quite muscularly built. Yet his voice was soft and caring as he pointed down to the pots, one of which looked like a jasmine vine and the other looked familiar without the flowers. It had a tag around the stem – and Smita gingerly picked it up to read – “Indian Night Queen”. Smita did not say anything, but used her pallav to cover her nose and mouth, as she rushed past Ron towards the kitchen. She poured water into the coffee machine and replaced the cannister of powder, as she turned the machine on. Her memories were not letting go of her!

So what memories do a good monsoon bring to you? Other than the plate of crisp pakoras and hot chai? Or maybe hot, roasted corn on the cob, or walks in the rain with or without the umbrella.

I look forward to the rainy weekend and the week ahead. …..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s