When the sky opens When the sky opens Malayalam writer NS Madhavan on the curious blindness to rains in Kerala,the first of Indian states to welcome the monsoon Written by N. Madhavan New Delhi June 5, pm Malayalam writer NS Madhavan on the curious blindness to rains in Kerala,the first of Indian states to welcome the monsoon An urban legend attributes the Inuit language with the largest number of words for snow.
In a similar vein,Khushwant Singh once wondered whether Malayalam has a rich set of words for rain. Normally it ought to have; after all,rains are to residents of Kerala,what permafrost is to Inuits. On an average,Kerala receives about inches 3, mm of rains annually,nearly 60 per cent of which is contributed by the south-west monsoon.
The rest comes from the north-east monsoon in November and pre-monsoon summer showers. It is referred to mostly by the noun mazha,sometimes preceded by an adjective. The word is combined with three or four verb forms to suggest various rain forms. The appointed day is usually June 1. For generations of children,it was an event they looked forward to with great eagerness. Everything was new that day; dress,footwear,books,hatchbacks,pencils,nice smelling new erasers and,of course,umbrellas.
However,when the children came home in the evening,they would be drenched by what was usually the first monsoon shower. While fixing the academic calendar, Malayalees seem to have forgotten the advent of monsoon. Or,perhaps,there was no other way; every other day is rainy. Rains made umbrella a necessary accessory for the Malayalees. Some centuries ago,the Malayalees forgot the connection between umbrellas and rains and vested them with functions their original inventor might never have intended.
From a rain or sun shade,it became a veil. Upper-caste women,especially Namboothiiris,were not allowed to get out of the house,without carrying a huge umbrella,sometimes draped with clothes.
These walking tabernacles could only move with the help of a maid. In ,when folding umbrellas made of cloth first appeared,the then Maharaja of Kochi,Sir Rama Varma,realising their subversive potential,quickly banned them. The monsoon did periodically remind the Malayalees,often with a bang,of its immense grip over their lives.
Hundreds perished in famines following the droughts of and In ,after two seasons of torrential rain,most of the paddy fields were destroyed.
That forced the State of Travancore,for the first time,to import rice. Malayalam has two words for the south-west monsoon; kalavarsham meaning seasonal rain,and,more accurately,edavapathi,after the day of the month on which it traditionally arrives,that is,the 15th day of Edavam or the Malayalam solar month of Taurus. This year,it fell on May 29,the same day when the monsoon entered Kerala. Most spectacularly,this happens on the day of the outbreak of the south-west monsoon.
Clouds brought by winds from different latitudes gather in the panoramic sky over Kerala beaches. Minute by minute,you can see their grey tones thickening to pure black. Occasional lightning backlights thick cloud curtains. Sometimes on the horizon there is a rainbow. Then,suddenly,the first drops of rain,as big as marbles,start falling. In the s,a few fisherfolk and local people used to watch the first rains at the Thiruvananthapuram beach.
Weathermen from the town,with boxes full of instruments,would also join. Foreigners,mostly,senior citizens from Europe,came later. As time went by,the crowd grew; international Met people registered a big presence. More tourists,many from rain-starved Saudi Arabia,started flocking to Kerala. Next year,at Kovalam beach,the celestial spectacle of jostling clouds overhanging perilously close to a tumultuous sea was matched by hundreds of zoom-lens carrying monsoon enthusiasts.
That year,the paparazzi-shy monsoon delayed its debut. Kerala branded monsoon; and parcelled it as honeymoon and wellness packages. To recall Borges,it was not only a case of bringing on the camels,whole caravans of camels,but also selling fridge magnets with camel motifs. One of the best places to watch the awesome arrival of the monsoon is Kochi. The town itself is the daughter of the south-west monsoon. The river Periyar,before it was dammed,was known as the Sorrow of Kerala.
In one of the fiercest monsoons,in ,Periyar whirling down the Western Ghats with torrents of water ruptured the Kochi sandbar and from that gorge,the port of Kochi was born. For millenniums,Indians knew the path of the monsoon.
From Kerala to Himalayan terai,farming all over India is conducted,in periods of constellations called nakshathras,with a prescribed set of operations for each period,roughly equal to a fortnight. The south-west monsoon usually starts in the constellation Rohini,and planting is scheduled for Ardra in late June,when rainfall is heavy. Click here to join our channel indianexpress and stay updated with the latest headlines For all the latest News Archive News , download Indian Express App.
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Leading the list of those full of praise for the poem is Manishi Jani, who had been president of the Navnirman Andolan which, in , had managed to oust Chimanbhai Patel, the then chief minister of Gujarat, on charges of corruption. The Navnirman Andolan had been praised by freedom fighter and political leader Jayaprakash Narayan for its originality, raw energy and creativity. It was also the first state in the country to vote the BJP into power.
And it is also the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is being internationally berated for his poor handling of the coronavirus situation. According to those who know her well, her best writing moments arrive when she is cleaning her house or rolling out chapatis. Her husband, who works for a bank, is proud of her creativity and writing. Like many young women in India, Khakkar, who will turn 51 in July, quit college in her second year, married and began a family, her relative said.
But she had always loved writing. Her first poem had been written in , when she was in standard 10 in school. This poem was special in her eyes, but she gave up writing once she married. My first love. I could always bank on poems to help me wade through life. I write in Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu. I love writing ghazals. I am spiritual and religious. In an interview two years ago with a journalism student in Rajkot who had been working on a dissertation on feminism, Khakkar had emphasised that she is not a typical feminist and her biggest happiness is being around her family and doing household chores.
Every translation that has been shared on social media so far has gone viral. Before this poem was written, Khakkar was very much in the good books of right-leaning litterateurs in the intensely polarised state of Gujarat. Parul Khakkar.
She has also written poems on Radha and Krishna which have become popular Gujarati bhakti songs. This has led Khakkar to change her public accounts on Facebook and Instagram to personal locked accounts. Politically, her family primarily leans towards the BJP. A well-known Rajkot-based poet who wished to remain anonymous has confirmed that Khakkar has never been anti BJP.
But the sight of bodies floating in the Ganga had stirred the poet in her, this poet added. For her, it is just an expression of her thoughts.
According to those who know her well, her best writing moments arrive when she is cleaning her house or rolling out chapatis.
When the sky opens
Her husband, who works for a bank, is proud of her creativity and writing. Like many young women in India, Khakkar, who will turn 51 in July, quit college in her second year, married and began a family, her relative said. But she had always loved writing. Her first poem had been written inwhen she was in standard 10 in school.
This poem was special in her eyes, but she gave up writing once she married. My first love. I could always bank on poems to help me wade through life. I write in Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu. I love writing ghazals. I am spiritual and religious.
reach for the sky
In an interview two years ago with a journalism student in Rajkot who had been working on a dissertation on feminism, Khakkar had emphasised that she is not a typical feminist and her biggest happiness is being around her family and doing household chores.
She would none of all my posies — Bade me gather her blue roses. Half the world I wandered through, Seeking where such flowers grew. Half the world unto my quest Answered me with laugh and jest.
10 of the Best Poems about the Colour Blue
Why do we marvel so much at the blue found there when there is a vastness of blue above our heads, in the form of the sky? This Frost poem ponders this question. Blue is the colour of the sea, of course — at least according to popular literary convention.