Rain Rain Go Away?

For all the native Mumbaikars, as well as for those who’ve been staying here awhile, there is nothing new about the rains holding Mumbai to ransom. It’s a usual occurrence, year after year, rains coming in late, lashing out in all its fury, causing havoc. Mumbai’s lifeline – the Mumbai locals, come to a standstill at the first glimpses of what goes on to become a heavy outpour.

We are used to it now. We romanticise it, even. Along with all the cluck-clucking of tongues lamenting the poor civic structure, we do enjoy having to stay at home from work owing to the heavy rains. The season of kanda-bhajji, and chai by the window, indeed.

While there are a lot of us who are currently enjoying being in the cosy interiors of our homes, my thoughts stray to those who aren’t that lucky. A deeper thought to it brings up the question of whether the said ‘unlucky ones’ ‘choose’ to be that way –  by way of not offering resistance to what life has given them. I speak about the hundreds of people in Mumbai who stay in makeshift homes – in temporary houses floating in the debris, or under tents made of tarpaulin, held up by bamboo. Or worse, in boxes under bridges at railway stations – a friend once mentioned a particular family-of-seven who live like that at Bhandup station. 5 kids, no income, and an addition every year, I wonder how they get by. They’d barely have enough to feed all the hungry mouths even on a sunny day…

Just yesterday, as I was getting down at my station while coming back home, I saw a male child, barely 2 years old, laughing away in delight – a happy, gurgling sound that believed in the security of the present. Eyes sparkling, he played with his sibling covered in nothing but a tattered shirt as his beggar mother gossiped her time away with another lady. To the child, the world was perfect – an unknown amazement that held many promises. How I wish we could give that dream to every child in our society.

On a bleak, dreary rainy day, the laughter echoes in my ears.

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