3.06.2016

Fernweh

The rain has been lashing out in a ceaseless torrent, with gusts deforming umbrellas and wailing though gaps in windows. The room is dark, save a little lantern with a beautifully calm flame inside. I am writing.

It is a quiet night, yet all my senses are being pandered to. The pen, setting thoughts down in cursive, is scratching the paper with just the right amount of force, and my fingers delight in being rewarded thus after spending most of their waking hours at the computer. My nose starts to smell the subtle smell of metal on top of the lantern heating up, and the freshly laundered pillows are yet to give up their scent.

The rain quietens down, and picks back up after a brief lull. A few cars hiss past on the road below.

It's a deeply personal, nostalgia-inducing moment.

Nostalgia, of course, is cheap when you're away from home and is worsened whilst advancing well into adulthood: dispatching places, friends and feelings at a disconcertingly fast pace. It's the same nostalgia that swiftly evokes memories of mango showers, of temple bells and champa incense, of simpler times, spicier food and fewer milestones passed. It is, however, also the curious form of nostalgia that does not hesitate to infuse these memories with tinges of fantasy, and a longing for a time filled with large bookshelves, of hand-written letters and of soft classical music being provided an interlude by a passing steam train.

It is the same rain that makes me take a long look outside the window at work and blissfully let the mind travel swiftly to Sengottai or Subrahmanya Road. The same rain that does not waste an opportunity to remind me of monsoon in the western ghats, of rainy afternoons in first year of college or a shared auto ride after a long evening. More recently, of the spectacular afternoon thunderstorms that were a staple of hot Atlanta summers, bringing with them the cooler evening and the subtle fragrance of Mognolia. It's the rain that pitter-patters off Berkeley's Eucalyptus grove to rush in with memories of crisp Saturday mornings in a rain washed Bangalore, where eucalyptus-scented rain and the Nalinakanthi raga united over Brooke Bond tea.

The rain continues furiously outside, and I try to explain the visceral feeling of peace I get, of some things finally being in order. Perhaps it finally lays to rest the discomfort that started a few months after having moved to drought-stricken California, of not having had a single rainy day in months. It is going to smell and feel good tomorrow morning, a proper rain-washed morning indeed. Perhaps a walk through UC Berkeley campus is in order, followed by some excellent Eggs Benedict.

I've given up trying to find a reason for why the rain continues to be such a central character in my life. Now I just long for it, and let my heart flutter at the anticipation when the skies darken.