It’s raining tonight. Cold December rain.
It isn’t raining cats and dogs, though. Just the low humming rain that keeps falling incessantly.
It has rained after quite some time today. There is this smell emanating from the soil — that characteristic smell that accompanies monsoons.
It should be winter now in Guwahati, technically. But the weather’s changed. Global warming, I presume. It is not as cold as it used to be in Decembers when I was growing up.
Yet this rain, the smells and the sounds, the light blanket, and this dark night bring back memories of familiar winter nights spent many years ago at my grandfather’s place.
It is a small town called Coochbehar – a town that has always fascinated me. My best moments while growing up were spent there.
I remember how cold it used to be back then. How I would lie under the blanket and listen to the rain in the dark of the night. How the familiar smell would entice. How the night watchman would come right up to the house and frighten me with his blood curdling whistle. How I would hear his footsteps as he walked away from the house. How the cold winter wind would creep in through crevices of the wooden house.
Those were the best winters. Now the winter fog is no longer there. Things have changed.
Both of my maternal grandparents were alive back. I don’t feel any great sense of loss for them, to be honest. But a loss has been often experienced.
A loss of environment, warmth. Certain people have a certain aura and make sure that the places they inhabit emanate the same. The place has never been the same after they left for their abode up above.
Now as I lay in bed and type on my phone, I hear the low hum of the fridge, the wall clock ticking away. Mechanical sounds. There’s no warmth. No emotion. No sense of adventure. No cold wind creeping in. It’s a concrete house.
There’s no watchman here.
Why do familiar smells and sounds bring nostalgia? Why does it feel that things were always better in the past, when they actually weren’t? What is this mystery?