Friday, July 07, 2006

When the Clouds Beckon........

Clouds have always been a fascination for me since childhood. Especially in the monsoon laden months in Kerala, the clouds come in all shapes and colours, much to my amusement.

When I was a kid I used to think they were made of cotton wool, whole loads of them. And to strengthen my conviction, once when I injured myself, our maid told a reluctant and bleeding me that she herself had plucked the cotton stub dipped in dettol ( which she was holding) from the clouds outside. And since our “terrace” was a forbidden area for kids …I really thought that one could touch the clouds from the terrace and even collect cotton wool …as much as one wants….

When I used to accompany dad to drop mom for work, I used to be happy seeing her Hospital building which “seemed” tall enough to touch the clouds….My small brain was immediate to reason out the logic of why this building had to be tall when its neighbors were so squat…. “Tall so that the doctors can collect enough cotton wool to treat their patients!!!”

Fortunately or unfortunately I never got a chance to present my “derived logic” in front of any august gathering of grown-ups…who would have had a great laugh at my expense and then would have had an added advantage of making me understand “how far the clouds are…”

One night…long back…probably I was in my third standard when I dreamt of my brother and I playing on the “terrace” and a cloud came swooping down…I touched the cloud and it pulled me away…away from home…away from my family …away from the city I knew so well….I was startled and woke up. Then for a brief stint I hated clouds… “Child-catchers” I used to think.

As time moved ahead…I also learnt like a million other kids of my age, the science of cloud formation and the art of differentiating between a “Cumulus” and a “Cumulo-nimbus” cloud…

When I was in 8th standard we had an old, interesting Malayalam Sir who used to recite poems and passages from epics to us. I still remember the excerpt from Kalidasa’s legendary “Megh-Dootam” where the king who is a captive sends his messages to his beloved through the clouds…..I was enamored by this concept…how romantic would that be…a cloud outside your window whispering into your ears the message sent by your beloved who is in a faraway land.

In the past few years in Delhi, I almost forgot the existence of “clouds” in the sky…probably I was too caught up in the mundane realities to look up and notice. One proverb which I really held close to my heart all these years was that “every cloud indeed has a silver lining……” a truth which I often forget only to be reminded by Sorabh, time and again. A very optimistic thought when the time is tough.

Recently, I was lucky enough to get a chance to travel down the sub continent to Goa , just when the monsoons decided to storm northwards….and I couldn’t resist but click those wonderful amorphous forms and rich hues that would give any painter a run for his money. Those beautiful unknown landscapes through which the train moved were reduced to mere foregrounds to these brilliant tapestries of nature.

Be it “Bundles of Cotton wool” or “ Demonic Child-Catchers” or “Romantic Messengers”…the clouds and their silver linings have always had a special place in my heart.