The people of Kerala always welcomed the rains with open arms. The smell of wet mud, the sound of falling drops, and the cool breeze that brushed past the surrounding trees were always accompanied by a cup of hot chaaya and pazhampori. It always seemed like the most homely month of the year where conversations over tea amidst the rains were remembered. Many romantic scenes in Malayalam cinema were shot in the rains. The onset of the monsoons would bring out the photographer within people, prompting everyone to click incredible shots of Kerala’s rain against the backdrop of the greenery-filled mountains and lush trees. Children would play mud football with the sole aim to get drenched and dirty. In a state like Kerala, the rains brought joy to people and made the place look more beautiful than it was already.
But, of late, every Keralite has started to dread the rains. The dread stems from the fear of life.
What was once considered romantic is now a sign of fear. The 2018 Kerala floods was a shocking time for every Malayali. Though social media played a huge role in helping the people in need, it showed the stark reality of a natural disaster. The scariest part was witnessing people’s livelihood getting wiped out in minutes. Deaths were intolerable. But, the community of Malayalis all around the world made sure that no one felt alone. Their contributions to the relief camps, sharing ‘Help Wanted’ posts on social media hoping that it would reach someone, their prayers – every single hand lent was a blessing. We showed the world the true power of kindness and compassion. We showed the true spirit of Malayalis.
Having said that, the rains sparked fear among all Malayalis because the unexpected came true. The rains showed no mercy and it broke the starry-eyed, fairytale relationship we shared with it.
It’s 2019 and history is repeating itself. The conditions are still the same even though the people of Kerala are much more prepared than last year. It still does not diminish the fact that people now hate the mucky Kerala monsoon and the flash floods it has caused. Conversations about the monsoons are now of the future of the family and monetary loss. Pictures and videos shared on social media are of people pleading to help save them from death. Children are no longer playing. The sad demise of our love for the rains is disheartening. It will no longer awaken us and remind of the beautiful place we live in. It will just remind us of the fear that consumed us. The only mantra chanted by Malayalis at the moment is, “this too shall pass”.
The present-day situation in Kerala has leaned towards a de-sensitized scenario because, though people were prepared for the worst, we’ve accepted it. We knew that the rains were coming. The relief preparations were better because a lot was learnt from the 2018 Kerala Floods. The co-operative forces of locals, volunteers, officials only grew stronger. Monetary contributions by people came pouring in even though it was less than last year. But, we have to deal with it, together. And so we did. Along the way, we’ve understood the dangerous potential of heavy rains. It’s no surprise that all people can talk about the rains in Kerala is how bad it is. “What a curse!”, some would say. The outrage is justified. The perfect rainy day will soon turn into a philosophy to-be written by some famous Malayali poet, or a student looking out from his window hoping that it would stop raining. Sad, isn’t it?
Kerala will always dread the coming monsoon seasons. All the people of Kerala can do is hope for the best – less damage, less loss of lives, and less rains.