Soaking in the bounty of nature

Aug 10, 2018, 07:11 IST | Rosalyn D'mello

Where I was meant to be reading and writing, I have instead been cherishing the rejuvenating monsoonal weather in Goa

Soaking in the bounty of nature
I watch the rainwater evaporate and return to its cloudy source. representation pic

Rosalyn D'melloEvery spell of rain continues to feel apocalyptic. I should have got habituated by now; but each time I see the river swell with fresh downpour or witness the trees rustle like mad women, or hear the thud of aged, hardened coconuts falling onto earth or the shivering of the plastic sheets that border the backyard enclosure that has assumed the sanctity of my writing space I find myself in a certain kind of awe. The creatures around me are unperturbed.

The cats, Barfi and Cleo, continue to lounge, as does the Pomeranian, Aden, or the rogue cat who is too stealthy to claim belonging and who enters and exits like a thief (I call him Sylvester, because his black and white mane reminds me of the cartoon character, the one whose catchphrase was Suckering Suckertash), or the many varieties of butterflies that come and go and the one stray she-dog who thinks I'm her spirit human.

They're more accustomed to all the monsoon melodrama that unfolds by the banks of the Anjuna River where I continue to be stationed. It's only I who feels trepidation, as if the river will relentingly surge to its flood point, colonising the banks; as if the trees will break because they cannot withstand the commotion caused by the wind.

It has been difficult to acclimatise my conditioned sense of the hours with the notion of time that pervades here, which is far more mysterious and uncountable. When clouds have staged themselves in the sky and you cannot necessarily glimpse at the Sun, 11am feels like 7am; and I wake up thinking I've got the better of it, that I have arisen, however reluctantly, with the morning sun. Then I check my phone for the time and I am appalled by the lateness of the hour. It is as if I have slipped out of a constituting standard of time into some realm of in-between-ness. Night falls slowly and unceremoniously.

I try, in vain, to recover the lost hours but find I've fallen even deeper into the mystery of timelessness. The days have passed, yes, a whole week, in fact. But it feels as though I have been living here since the very beginning of time. There's a slowness that has seeped into my blood.

I no longer know how to measure my productivity. I have stories that are due. I would have liked to have actively written at least a few thousand words that would have increased the spine of my second book's draft. I would have liked to have finished reading more books than I have. My only excuse is that instead of being the active person I was meant to be, or that I thought I would be when I was on my way here from Delhi, I have become not passive but sponge-like. I am absorbing minutiae. I am soaking in every spray of rain, every gush of wind, every hurried rush of sunshine and every waft of petrichor that lurks just above the top layer of already moistened soil.

The muteness of unwelcome noise - blaring horns and the humdrum of the urban mundane, has elevated the sounds of nature; bird songs and frog symphonies and even the slight chomping riff of marching ants. Where I was meant to be reading and writing, I have instead been staring into the river's skin, observing its tidal shifting, its freshwater texture, its rippled reflection of the monsoonal sky lurking above. I have been making moving images of stillness. When the sun surfaces I spend what feels like hours staring at the shadows cast by leaves. I watch the rainwater evaporate and return to its cloudy source. I experience on my skin the sudden increase in humidity. I sweat. I lust. I get so seduced by the lullaby lure of wind and sun I fall asleep on the sunbed in the backyard and daydream.

I chose to come to Goa in the monsoon because of all the glorious shades of green the earth manifests. There is rejuvenation above and under land. There is an over-abundance of life. Everything teems with grace. Everywhere is freshness. It is easy to be lulled. It is also important, I think, to be capable of being swayed like this by nature; to release one's body from the more capitalistic notion of labour wherein a day's work is measured by defined variables. One night into this self-imposed Goan writing retreat and I easily slipped into the lull of the void.

For the moment my only hope is to sink deeper; to live the full extent of Simone Weil's diktat - "Grace fills empty spaces but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void."

Deliberating on the life and times of Everywoman, Rosalyn D'Mello is a reputable art critic and the author of A Handbook For My Lover. She tweets @RosaParx Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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