a moral story (or) human failings
November 2, 2010 § 4 Comments
first, there were frogs.
but that is not how one begins a story.
what happened in the beginning was july. this year, we did not have an ugly july.
we had a relatively mild july, a july with cloudbursts and gentle rain and red skies and birds in puddles, and gasp – all together now – flowers. we cautiously enjoyed the pleasant mornings and the lovely evenings, ready to whip out our smug pessimism at the slightest sign of summer proper, which is characterised by unbearably hot sun and grimy, weatherbeaten populace whose only joy in life is the discussion, in gruesome detail, of how very hot this year’s summer is and how it is a record for all time, and how up in delhi they’re saying it’ll get even hotter before fall, and you know, in weather like this, pansy goras would be dropping like flies – but we? ha!
(flies remind me, those hundreds of frogs… oh wait. it isn’t time yet.)
summer is the angry blue-white of a hotmetal sky, delicately accessorised with the pink of sunburnt foreign exchange student. summer is mango shakes in our cafeteria and burning sand in our nostrils. summer is our Frenemy.
and this year we did not have this summer.
oh yes, we’d come prepared with our dupatta-shields and our extra-large umbrellas and our 55SPF sunblock and our righteous (and pre-emptive) irritation, but pfzzzt, just like that, just to screw with us, summer refused to happen. instead, here we were, a befuddled mass of undergraduate-ment, forced to enjoy Inclement Weather. oh, the injustice of it all.
we enjoyed it with a light hand and a heavy heart. we knew that the moment we enjoyed it with abandon, it would disappear as well. we walked silently in the showers. we never complimented in more than the tersest language. (“it’s raining.” “yes.” “it’s nice.” “i suppose.”). whenever we slipped up and exclaimed at the magic of puddles, we took care to neutralise it by grumbling about the mudstains they left on our clothes. our enjoyment was marked by responsible exercise of gloomy restraint.
(meanwhile, what was happening, was frogs. frogs on the roads and frogs in the hostels. frogs in the corridors and on the steps. first the novelty of one frog and then the cuteness of two, and then…)
oh yes, there were the inevitable blithe exceptions to the rule, screeching and dancing in the rain and generally jinxing the lovely weather simply through their acknowledgment of it, but most of us took care to line the walls and frown a frown of disapproval at their irresponsibility and shake a headshake of sadness at their naivete. summer will be here soon, and it will be Hot, we moaned. winter will follow, and it will be Cold, we sobbed into our chai. this weather cannot last! we wrung our helpless hands, so unpredictable! all this Global Warming i tell you, we hissed in disapproval.
(…and then, the annoyance of a hundred! there was frogs everywhere! first we noticed, then we whined, then we grew tired of whining and simply stopped noticing the hundreds of thousands of little ugly bundles of moistness hopping about everywhere.)
eventually, inevitably, we relaxed. we began taking the fine weather for granted. we are having Fine Weather here in jodhpur, we proudly told our friends. we budgeted for rain while making plans. we even began to declare – alas, thoughtless naivete! – that jodhpur was possessed of a monsoon season of its own. we will segue gently and calmly from a pleasant monsoon to a lovely winter, we beamed. none of this nonsense hot summer for us.
and then the frogs began to die.
we did not notice that they were dying until the faint, empty frog-shaped outlines on the tar roads began outnumbering actual frogs themselves. frogs that hadn’t died as victims of hit-and-run accidents, were dying of dehydration, which in frog terms is pretty much evaporation because frogs are clearly ninety nine point one hundred percent water. so these frogs were dying every day, melting, fusing against the hot tar roads until all that was left of them was a chalk-like frog shaped outline. and these outlines were everywhere.
so far we’d only had our eyes on puzzlingly froggie-bereft roads. by the time realisation dawned and we’d looked up to the sky, the sky had changed to the merciless blue metal and the sun was beating down at 47 degrees centigrade.
sometime we hadn’t noticed, summer had sneaked up on us – and we’d only found out because it had evaporated our frogs.
what happened next? what could?
dupattas, of course, and umbrellas. socks in floaters, filled desert coolers. dehydrated pigeons falling off balconies. in a day or so it was as though our rainy season had never happened to us. in a day or two you could sit in our cafeteria and talk about how very hot this year’s summer is and how it is a record for all time, and how up in delhi they’re saying it’ll get even hotter before fall, and you know, in weather like this, pansy goras would be dropping like flies – but we? ha!