The first drops of rain we got after a four-month long drought came with a lot of special effects. Strong winds started blowing at around eight in the evening. The verandah was like the set of a disaster-on-board movie. Anyone who wanted to stand straight in there had to cling to a pillar. No standing around however, it was all hands on deck as chairs, tables and flowerpots had to be got out of the wind to safety. There was some rain, which we sensed more by the sound it made on the roof than by sight. The drops disappeared into the dry earth as soon as they fell. My husband spoke to the Company Saab in Kolkata and held the receiver up so that he could hear the raindrops on the roof.
It was over in a few minutes. We went to bed, and after a couple of hours I woke up to a racket. It sounded as if an elephant had entered the labour lines. People were bursting crackers and shouting, and dogs were barking madly. My husband spoke to someone over the cell phone. About two hours later, there was a crash that sounded like the end of the world. There was a flash of green light - now I know what Harry Potter felt like - and then everything went dark. Mohan knows how courageous I am, and how calm I remain in a crisis. So he was already holding both my hands and telling me not to worry. There was a mild burning smell around us. Mohan went out with a torch to check for damages. There didn't seem to be any. Our lights didn't come back for twenty minutes, by which time it had started to rain. The relief of hearing falling rain and the lights coming back were enough to send us back to sleep.
The next morning, Mohan reported that there'd been very little rain. But he was all smiles. The drought was over. What other news, I asked. Plenty. The elephant had crashed its way through the fencing around at least four houses, eating all the bananas planted there. No one in the garden was upset. The elephant was lucky for us all, they said - it had brought rain! One Assistant reported that when the lightning struck, the main switchboard of his bungalow had caught fire. Luckily, he managed to put it out. In our bungalow, the burning smell had been coming from the plug-in adaptor to the cordless phone. It had burst when lightning struck. Oh yes, and the water pump had died in the night.
It was a cheery morning. The sun shone in a sky that was blue for the first time in months. The bungalow was alive with activity. An electrician was fitting a substitute water pump. The Malis - gardeners - were sweeping up leaves which were strewn all over the compound. A boy started washing carpets, something he'd been putting off because of the dust haze in the air. The only sad faces I saw were those of the hollyhocks in the garden - they were all laid down by the storm.