A Lazy Midsummer Afternoon—A Rare Communion
'Tis sweet to hold communion With Nature true and wild, And feel the thrill of gladness She breathes upon her child
--Jared Barhite-- Communion With Nature
The rain came down in torrents –a gallon to a drop. It flowed down the terraces in miniature waterfalls, carrying the flame coloured flowers of the May Queen, tearing the red carpet to tatters, and roared off down an unknown drain. The girl walking on the main driveway seemed to have no feet, and seemed to glide along—her feet hidden by the spray as the raindrops hit the tarred surface of the road. Thunder rumbled overhead. Suddenly there was a blinding flash, followed almost immediately by an ear-splitting crash. It startled the students who had been too intent on their exams to notice anything.
It had been a quiet afternoon – almost too quiet it would seem—when I had come to take up the invigilation duty. It was during the summer ‘holidays’ and the usual hustle and bustle was missing. There were only 5 girls writing the exam that day and two invigilators were way too superfluous. So… there we were-two of us teachers with nothing to do, and three long hours to while away. I stood in the doorway enjoying the breeze. The May Flower trees were in full bloom, their orange-red flowers making an entrancingly delicate tracery against the pale blue sky. The ground was strewn with the flowers like a red carpet spread out to welcome all comers. I let the silence and the beauty sink into my very soul rejuvenating it.
It was then that the sky had started darkening –imperceptibly at first then getting darker by the minute. Suddenly a cold wind swept through the class room tossing the papers about and the rain followed soon after.
The light and sound show lasted all of half an hour. It stopped as suddenly as it had started and the sun was shining just as though it was business as usual and the storm had never happened. It steamed away the moisture wherever it touched seeking to remove the last traces. But, the rain had brought a welcome surcease to the burning heat, settling the dust and leaving the air bright and clear.
I took a deep breath of the intoxicating wet-earth scent. The storm had chased away the mid afternoon drowsiness and I felt invigorated. Storms do that to me. They are exhilarating—especially if its after dark with the power supply cut off—removing the last barrier between me and the primeval fury of nature unleashed. The raw power of the wind, rain, thunder and lightning just surge through me—atonement (at-one-ment) pure and complete. (Though sometimes it’s tinged with a twinge of guilt when I think of my servant’s home where the water is likely to come in, like an uninvited guest).
"Away from the tumult of motor and mill I want to be care-free; I want to be still! I'm weary of doing things; weary of words I want to be one with the blossoms and birds."
Edgar A. Guest
Nature in her more benign and sublime moods too touch my heart strings to evoke a sweet and haunting melody. Like the Sunday afternoons in the height of summer when, well fed and content, I lie down for the well earned rest. Outside the sun is blazing hot. But in my room, under the shade of the fragrant jasmine tree, it’s quiet and cool.
I watch the leaves casting shifting shadows on the glass as they are ruffled by the light breeze and a feeling of contentment steals over my senses lulling me into a half sleep. Or, the time when I am rushing to college in an auto on a dreary morning, late as usual.
The sky is overcast threatening rain. Suddenly a single ray of sunlight bursts through a gap in the clouds, illuminating a laden ‘konna’ tree, turning it into a poem in pure gold. It’s only the very briefest of glimpses as the auto sped by, but for a moment the veil was drawn back, and I glimpsed the face of the creator. Cut to another locale—this one an air-conditioned forest. We were on a one day picnic, my students and I. The trees overhead seemed almost to meet and we walked through a cool verdant tunnel, all our cares and all our weariness forgotten in such pristine surroundings, when a turn brings us face to face with a brook with ice cold water, gurgling over rocks and huge boulders, the bed strewn with white ‘vellaramkallu’(white granite stones)— beautiful beyond compare. Or, evenings at my favorite Krishna temple, atop a hillock, where I can look out over the small pond, the open sky a riot of sunset colors, the lamps all lit and the pooja bells tinkling, inducing a prayerful mood, recharging the spent spirit and the weary soul. Or the majestic harvest moon, rising over the rooftops, solemn and mysterious. Its one of the few times when I have wished for a power failure and bandh—to blot out the ever present reminders of civilization that marred the sublime moment. All and each have been to me a rapture and an ecstasy, that none of the modern aids to entertainment can hope to match.
The ringing of the bell recalled me to my duties. The brief communion with nature—the storm—I stored in my heart, along with all the other vignettes, to sooth a ‘vacant or a pensive mood’ with ‘tranquil restoration’.