mazhayil maaril cherum kanam pole, ennum njan
I will be like a raindrop that falls on your breasts, always
It is raining here in Canberra, but this is not rain. The good Lord gave the people of Kerala the real deal. The south-west coast of India, is perhaps the most romantic place on earth, where people still die for love. Instead of pub crawls and O weeks and toga parties, university students in Kerala protest and write love poems in the rain. It is the kind of place where people would much rather lay on a train track than part with their beloved.
We were always drunk on love in Kerala. I clearly remember how a classmate of mine wrote a series of love poems in the university magazine titled ‘Her’. The whole Social Sciences department speculated the subject was either the resident poet (me) , the musician (a semi successful music director now) or the artist (he works for a newspaper now, I think) in her classroom. New issues of the magazine flew off the shelves as soon as it was printed. We used to sit under the almond trees in the campus dissecting the lines.
All that effort went to waste, because she left a few months later. She was married off to someone hastily, because her hypochondriac mother had a revelation from the good Lord that she was going to die before her daughter’s marriage.
Years later, I asked a common friend who knew the truth of the matter, and she admitted that the object of desire in those poems was the artist.
Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed. But then it rained and my big fat ego and I gazed at it through the open door, and the rain fell through the green leaves and the scent of the earth rose and intoxicated ruby-red hibiscus flowers. And it reminded me of coconut oil and jasmine flowers and mascara and lips that never dared to speak the truth.
When it is about to rain in Kerala, a cold breeze blows through the classrooms and homes and offices, letting everyone know that somewhere, someone is biting into soft flesh and digging their nails into bed sheets and moaning in the shadows of muted light. And responding to the invite, everyone gravitates towards the open windows and doors, waiting with bated breath for the first drop, the many drops, the deluge of desire.
Norman Mailer ends his novella ‘A River Runs Through It’ with the sentence – “I am haunted by waters.”
I am haunted by rains.