Monsoon, gone so soon

Gayatri Hazarika wrote this ode to the monsoon during the peak of the rains, but we lazybones are sharing it with you now so that you cherish the last gasp of the season, the final raindrops before winter desiccates the subcontinent. Enjoy this photo essay

Sun lovers and seekers of the picturesque, what do you do during the onslaught of rains – the monsoon? When the skies open up, the winds skate with abandon, and the sun diffuses into a chiaroscuro for days on end. When the only respite is a brief drizzle or a new mountain of clouds rising, as the skies downshift gear to rev up again.

Having an active but restless imagination, I tired of the monsoon romance soon enough. The roaring winds didn’t thrill and the spate didn’t bring joy – these barely carry any memories now. I looked askance at people who broke into rain melodies, and that too the same ones every year. Life for me was reduced to working in season-agnostic corporate indoors, and back home, perfecting the art of salvaging laundry from the terrace, with the raindrops close on my heels.

So, when two years ago, I stumbled upon the Lilliputian world beneath the pluvial foliage, it was a fall into the Rabbit Hole. This happened when work commitments pushed an end-of-season holiday into the monsoon timetable; from the sunny slopes of Ooty to a wet patch of rainforest in west Karnataka. This far, the birding calendar dictated my vacations. The rainy months being downtime for birding, I settled on a monsoon venue with opportunistic optimism, reasoning thus: Don’t the spring-breeding birds all sync their broods with the rains when insects are abundant?

But other things lay in wait for me – slimy, creepy, and crawly. Frogs, snakes, snails, moths, bugs and worms paraded the undergrowth, the dank foliage, the deadwood, the moss on the bark and the lichen on the rock, to grab eyeballs in monsoon primetime. It was their time of the year. And, as if the rains were a celestial aphrodisiac, they mated like there’s no tomorrow.

Their languorous world enraptured me. Each one told a story, sometimes vetted by field guides, and otherwise left to the imagination. Take for instance the foot-flagging behavior in frogs where males straighten their perpetually bent knees in a toe-touching stretch. This is a visual signal to warn other males, in the midst of cacophony that drowns sound signals.

Crouched with the camera and a maternal instinct to save the equipment from rains, I spent my hours clicking the bugs. My fancy for the new-found models caught on over weekends thereafter, in other monsoonal retreats.

A husband with insatiable curiosity, the correct field guides, and a stark resemblance to an encyclopedia with a talent for home-spun naturalistic yarns, opened the door to this, should I say, middle earth.

The romance is now back in the monsoon.

Here is a photo collage:

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