Let’s talk about the weather.
So, it’s officially spring, the clocks are going forward, but the question on everyone’s lips is, where is the milder weather? People are posting pictures of daffodils poking out from under a deluge of snow, a sliver of yellow flashing from beneath all that dazzling white.
Avid gardeners mope with nothing to do. Normally they would be flitting between garden centres, getting the best offers from each, and come back armed with seeds which they will then lovingly plant, revelling in the feel of soil in their fingertips, the weak spring sun warming their back, the welcome sound of lawn mowers from surrounding gardens. Neighbours will shout “hi” over the garden fence and others will man aprons and begin spring-cleaning. The back doors will be left open for the first time all winter and the garden chairs dusted, the barbecue cleaned, the washing line used, the washing flapping in wind which still has a bite to it- a commonwealth of flags waving hello.
Not this year though. This year, the back doors remain resolutely closed and people’s smiles are hidden by scarves, their better selves stolen by the biting wind.
I stand in the kitchen, the heating turned up high, a scalding mug of tea gradually warming my fingertips, having braved yet another ‘mild snow flurry’ and the BBC News- recession, more snow, fighting in the middle east- and call my mother. A burst of static and then, ‘How are you?’ she says, that warm smile in her voice. ‘It’s freezing here, mum.’ ‘Is it? Here it’s boiling. The well is dry. The farmers are worried about the crops and the price of rice has rocketed. Everyone is praying for rain.’
Weather, as you might well have guessed, plays a pivotal role in Monsoon Memories. There is scalding heat and sweat and grime. And of course there are the monsoons.
Picture this. The air is still, heavy, waiting. There is a hazy quality to the heat. Nothing stirs. Not the trees, not the crows sitting on telephone lines, not even the filmy layer of dust on the leaves. Insects drone balefully. Frogs croak and a lone snake slithers through the dust fashioning a wavy path. And then, listen, did you hear that? A clap? No, that was thunder. Surely. Surely. A drop, look. Plop. A hole in the dust, staining the mud vermilion. And all of a sudden it is here, swirling, boisterous, noisy, whipping the coconut trees to mayhem, making the crows dance, the banyan trees sing, bringing with it the smell of churned earth. The snake slithers away, the wavy path now a mesh of wet earth.
The monsoons. If you have experienced them once, you do not forget. The way you get drenched in seconds. The way the wet earth sticks to your legs, plasters your clothes to your body. The way the cool drops feel on your parched tongue.
I would love to be able to share Monsoon Memories now so you could come on in from the cold, make yourself comfy and lose yourself in the passion, the fury, and the drama. Unfortunately, that will have to wait until June but, in the meantime, if you sign up for e-mail updates (there’s a clever little form below) we will be sharing the cover design with you very soon – next Tuesday.
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