The books arrived one by one on different days; I tear open the plastic envelopes in happy anticipation. Finally I have the five books to read through the monsoon months of June, July & August. Am living in Bangalore, but half of me is synchronised to the events calendar in Kerala🗓.
By 2 June, monsoon arrived in Kerala in full force. While it’s sunny in Bangalore, I call my mom to hear what I know a typical rainy day in Kerala will be like “It started raining right from the morning⛈.” she says. “It’s dark all around. Afternoon now and the rain is still pouring” she says. I wish I could be there⛈
Here’s the pick for this year’s monsoon reads – 5 books📚
- In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Em & the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
Looking back….when we were living in the middle-east or Gulf as Keralites call the place, our school closed for summer in July and August around the time the temperatures peaked🌞. Every year we travelled to Kerala for the holidays. Our flight always landed early in the morning at the Trivandrum International Airport and the airplane door opened to dark grey clouds, wet tarmac, cool breeze and an occasional drizzle. We were home. Dad had leave only for one month; he returned after that; mom, me and brother returned only by the end of August. We were always in Kerala for the monsoons☔️.
My Dad and his youngest brother have their houses adjacent to each other separated by a boundary wall with a small gate through which you can cross-over🏘. My uncle and aunt are bank employees and their current place of posting was somewhere in north Kerala. Their house was newly built, semi–furnished and locked up. The key was with my grandmother, who stayed at our house. Curious to inspect the interiors of the new house, I take the key from my grandmother and unlock my uncle’s house. There is nothing of interest for me there. And then while thinking of locking up and returning back, it starts to rain heavily⛈⛈. I will wait till the rain stops, I decide and stay back. That’s when I notice the built-in plywood book case in the living room with a sliding glass panel. It is stacked with books; old books📖. Maybe it’s the disuse or maybe the dampness, the glass pane would not slide all the way. Through the little opening on the side, I push my hands in and take out the books. The covers were torn off from some; a few beginning pages were missing from others. They were my aunt’s collection, my uncle didn’t seem like much of a reader.Drawn to the colour, I pick one which still had the cover page and start reading….only till the rain subsides. And that’s how it began🤓. And from then on, every day after breakfast, I would take the key, head to my uncle’s house and read while it rained cats and dogs outside. After a couple of hours, I would hear a knock on the glass pane of the window, my mom calling me for lunch🍲.The main gate of the house was locked and the only way to uncle’s house is via our house, so no unexpected visitors. The rains are accompanied by thunder and being alone in a house during the thunder is a little scary. But the stories were too good to stop – there’s Agatha Christie, James Hadley Chase, A J Cronin, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffery Archer. And that’s not all, there are also comic books bound together in a hard cover; maybe 10-12 volumes in one📕 – Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon🦸♂️ and some others I can’t remember now.“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” – I just noticed that growing up, reading list had all western authors and the current set of books are by Indian authors. Well Jhumpa Lahiri is not an Indian national, but of Indian origin😊. The stories closer to home seem more endearing now. Maybe I have changed.I really hope to travel to Kerala sometime in the next few months before the monsoon retreats. Bangalore weather now is nice…cool, low humidity, occasional rains and just the right amount of sun🌦.But I miss the roaring rains of Kerala ⛈⛈.
Till next post, take care !!