It’s raining tonight. . .

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?

When the heart is not where home is. . .

He misses home.
He misses the familiar sights, sounds and smells, that were so synonymous with the word ‘home’.

He misses the early morning fog that blanketed miles and miles of crop fields and hid the horizon.

He misses the song of the cuckoo, and the smoke going up in the air at a distance – a sign that the farmer’s kitchen was reluctantly starting a new, long day.

He misses the dawn – and how home looked at that wonderful time of the day.

He hasn’t seen dawn for a long time now. And, sadly, dawns just don’t look the same anymore. The cuckoo doesn’t sing anymore. The fog doesn’t play hide and seek anymore.

Change, he believes, is invariably for the good. But, his belief doesn’t help him a tad in coping with change and all its trappings. He struggles, feeling uprooted all the time.

He frantically rummages through the rubble of the place he once called ‘home’ – in the fervent hope of salvaging some remnants. Some thing he can hold on to for a little more time.

But, he only finds dead people peering down from photo-frames hanging from the wall.

Even the trees at home don’t look the same. Some have been cut down. Others are under attack from parasitic plants. Just as the pleasant images of home in his mind are under attack now from the present scenes of death and degeneracy.

The child in him pines for the past.

But, time is a one-way street.

And he has a tough time learning to live with this fact.

Inside his head, he shrieks like a mad man. But, the living dead do not hear his frantic cries. He tries to shake the living dead out of their self-imposed slumber.
But, it is futile.

And in the end, he just gives up holding on to the broken shards of glass for he can no longer see himself bleeding to death.

A day comes when he simply shuts himself off to nostalgia. In all forms.

And WALKS AWAY.

Home, folks say, is where the heart is. And his heart had finally left home.