Monsoon in a city filled with millions of people can be a writer’s delight. It rains every hour, of every day, and people go about, unhindered, armed with umbrellas they hope will help weather the storm. As soon as the sky sprinkles, you’ll see the uniform shaking of hands as they let loose the umbrella from its bound form. The world transforms — not in the way the poet speaks of the transformation in nature, but by the populous that inhabit it.
Umbrellas, like heads, are now bobbing up and down the street. You’ll see them, varied like the varied people of the city. Striped, coloured, designed, and so many that stick to the basic colour of black. Their choice of an umbrella is telling; a man better studied in psychology will tell you more about how these choices make them who they are. Under each umbrella is an island of a person, an island created to bear the torment of the clouds that rain down upon them.
Doesn’t that sound like a metaphor for what humans do when the clouds burst in their own brain?
So many stories exist on a single street. Couples walk under a single umbrella, using the rain as an excuse to get closer. There are old folks with white hair and wizened faces who walk under their own umbrella wanting that space. Rich ladies, with a scowl on their faces and an umbrella so large it could fit three or four people under it; walk alone, under that wide canopy, eyeing the rest of the world in disdain. Students are the best: They huddle underneath an umbrella meant for one as if they were camping out at their friend’s place. And in a way, isn’t that how it is?
Witnessing these moments, the lines between reality and metaphor blurs as the view does when it rains. Umbrellas bob down the streets, and under each umbrella is an island of no rain, and on that island lives a story — not written about, only seen, maybe felt.
Akshay G. has been wandering through the streets and by lanes for years. He’s only just begun noticing the stories within them.