Friday, November 6, 2015

How the monsoon feels

You wake up at 3:30 to the luxurious sound of never ending rain. Cords of rain are hitting the ground and every surface. Mosquitoes are suppressed now but frogs in lively chorus bellow and trill. Later smaller singing insects will create a net of sound. The monsoon is so aural but that's not all. 

A drizzle turns to shower and soon a downpour as the streets empty. One or two umbrellas are as much for the sudden slice of sun as for the rain. People slip under an awning or into a shop and Batticaloa looks deserted. 

Water stands or water sinks into the sand. Water flows and water gathers. Leaves hold water and bricks dampen and turn green. 

The air may feel cool and damp, cloudy and damp, misty and damp, foggy and damp. Dampness lingers and suddenly is replaced by hot wet air or hot humid air. The humidity stops you on your way and you look for colors in the clothing shops to cool your eyes and relieve the thickness. 

The northeast sky blackens. Wisps of white or gray cloud material weave along the black background or float there or finalize. In the southwest where the land rises the clouds pile and pile. Massive high piles threaten but their power is inferred not felt. Clouds assemble and scatter. Clouds float and fall. Clouds retreat then assault. Clouds melt and clouds build. 

Wind changes or it stands still. Pockets of heat bring more heat. Waves of cool bring mosquitoes and flies. A fan chases them from their mark and the sound of a stiff broom on sand refreshes. 

Sometimes the power of the sun is felt and sometimes the power of the sun is hidden. Sometimes a stillness settles and sometimes there are layers of sweet noise. Sometimes a fern leaf quivers and sometimes a fruit falls. My host and I were standing under a tree the other day and a rat fell through the branches and lay dying in front of us on the ground. "Probably a crow dropped it" he said. 

Eagles gather in a flock squeaking uncharacteristically. Once one or two were chased by crows. Now twenty of them ride the thermal high and higher, diving, cavorting, promising something in the hot thick sun of a monsoon afternoon. 

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