He walks back into the apartment after a long day at work. I’m still in my pyjamas curled up in a corner of the bed.
“Have you been working all day?” he asks.
I nod. It had been a long day. Running and managing a business from home isn’t easy. I was used to being out and about and up in the air wondering which continent I’d travel to next. But the mandatory Coronavirus lockdown had forced us all to stay in. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise – I was finally home enough to focus on the things that really mattered to me. But change – even the good kind – isn’t always an easy adjustment.
“Get changed,” he says. “We’re going for a walk.”
I groan. I did it the way a child would when it’s perfectly satisfied with doing what it’s doing and had no intention of doing anything else. He climbs into bed and holds me in his arms. We’re both tired. The world can be a tiring place.
“C’mon,” he says a few minutes later. “Get changed. You’ve been cooped up all day. We’re going for a walk.”
It takes me a few moments to find my motivation. Why do we humans resist things that are good for us?
I finally get up and get changed. Not that I had any interest in getting ready. I put on some casual pants and a shirt that I didn’t care much for. The thundered roared outside. I didn’t use to like rain much – but ever since my very first Chopda Pujan at Sri Mariamman Temple, I have a new found respect for rain.
Mariamman – or Mother Mari – is the Rain Mother. She is a pre-Vedic Tamil folk goddess. In agricultural societies, abundance was contingent on adequate rainfall. Without rain, crops cannot grow healthy and strong.
“You’re still in your fancy suit,” I tell him once I am more suitably attired.
“You’re not the only one who can’t be bothered with the trappings of sartorial sense.”
I laugh. It’s true. We pretend to be who we need to be to make our living in this world.
I grab the big blue umbrella that’s conveniently positioned right outside the apartment. We take the elevator down. By the time we reach the ground floor, it is pouring. And I don’t mean just regular rainfall. It is a storm. Thunder. Lightning. The scary stuff that makes you want to crawl under the covers with a mug of hot chocolate and watch a movie.
I take a seat at the bench in front of the gym. There’s a big red X in the middle – insisting on social distancing. He sits down next to me on the other side of the bench. So close, yet so far.
I stare out at the storm that’s brewing in front of me and quickly make the assessment that this is not the time to go anywhere. I remember how I’d once read that before the time of Genghis Khan, the Mongols were afraid of thunder. I imagine how terrifying this spellbinding sight must have been for agricultural societies. And yet – rain was a blessing. Without water, crops would never grow.
“Don’t tell me you’re scared of a little rain,” he says. “You are a Pisces after all.”
I grin. “Of course not.”
I stand up and open the umbrella. It is big enough and strong enough to withstand this storm. Not all umbrellas are. I’d worn my flip flops so I wasn’t concerned about getting my shoes ruined. I walk outside into the rain. Within a few metres, my feet and pants are soaked right up to my knee.
But for some reason, I didn’t care.
Since the closure of the swimming pool, I had lost my only outlet to stay close to the water. Whenever I jump into that chlorinated pool, I remember that no matter how bad the day, water has the power to wash you clean. When you surrender to the element of water, you float and are free.
I stretch my hand out and let the droplets fall onto my fingers. I didn’t want my hair or cellphone getting wet – but the rest of me, I honestly didn’t mind. Since when did umbrellas become a cultural norm? I can’t think of anyone who would willingly take a walk in the rain unless they couldn’t avoid it.
As I walk uphill to the main road, I hear him call out from behind, “Be careful not to slip.”
I smile. He’s like that. Always reminding me of the little things. Always worrying about my well-being. Always fussing over me.
I slow my pace and walk at a more leisurely rhythm than what I am accustomed to. Step-by-step, we make our way to the supermarket. There is a beauty to the simplicity of the moment. When you’re on lockdown and unable to go anywhere – even a walk to the grocery store – which ordinarily seems like a chore, begins to feel like a luxury.
When we get to the supermarket, there are tons of people waiting under the shelter for the rain to stop. We head in and pick up the essentials – cereal, milk, wine, food for the next couple of days. I quietly eye the Hershey’s ChocoFills, knowing that it would garner his disapproval.
“Is that an appropriate breakfast?” he asks, amused.
I take it off the shelf and put it in the cart. I smile as widely as I can. He rolls his eyes and laughs, “What am I going to do with you?”
“You’re going to take me home – cause there’s no other place I’d rather be tonight than with you.”
He smiles. He has a kind smile – one that gently radiates from his eyes. We pay for our groceries at the self-checkout and he laughs as I stuff the Hershey’s CocoFills in our white-and-black elephant cloth bag. There would be a delicious yet innutritious breakfast in store for me tomorrow morning.
On the walk back, I play with the rain like an old friend that I was happy to see after a long time. There was pure joy in my heart at the simplicity of the moment.
“When we see all that is wrong,” he says philosophically. “We fail to see all the things that are right.”
When we arrive home, I quickly slip back into my pyjamas and head back to work. I had a business to build and a book to write.
Mother Mari’s rain was blessing my new adventure with her gift of abundance.