The boats and the toads

My mumbaikar friends could walk much faster than me. Probably the fast paced city, the crowded mumbai VT, rush for local trains, and the impromptu rains made them rapid like a rabbit. 
Not only Mumbai, each city gives you a born skill. My Norwegian colleague from up-north was chosen as specialist doctor in Antarctica, while I was straightaway rejected. He spent his childhood in snow-caves and ‘igloo’s, while I trolled at samosa-kachori joint of Babloo’s.
May be I could have tried Olympics in long-jump or decathlon. My city Darbhanga was city of lakes, puddles, drains and scum. We sailed through muddy pavements, hopping over loosely but strategically placed bricks, climbing over walls, and swaying as we walked on one-foot. Shifting school bags to one who reached the other end. Boys-and-girls alike, we reached school unblemished, untainted. Not a drop of water on us, the way we folded pants up, accurately guessing the depth of puddle from swirling vortex of water. The long jump, the relay race, the sprints, and the hurdle race. Indeed a decathlon!
Floods were so lovely as it came as a festival every year, when the make-shift boats would start plying, and the cars would lie stranded. Floating chappals, tyres, the flower garlands from temples, the animal caracasses, the cowdung and human-shit alike. Every mundane thing just floated.
Our biology teacher never had shortage of toads for dissection. They were everywhere in all shapes and colours, croacking and hopping. The croaking toad, the buzzing mosquitoes, and the reptilian rhapsody were inherent background noise as we studied. Swat the mosquitoes, and kill the toads were the only urge. Some of us turned murderers and some biologists!
Army helicopters dropping food packets, and the politicians waving from sky. What a carnival!! Grab it or leave it! How would you drop a packet from 200 feet on a 20 feet land? And the land is shrinking. Need some ‘drone’ missile kind technology with sharp accuracy. Rice packets reached, but not the ‘rasam’ and ‘sambhars’. Steamed hot rice tastes so awesome with plain salt. Like hot ‘bhutta’ in Khandala rain.
A small elevated mound in villages where entire village would gather witnessing their submerging shacks. Naked kids swimming in muddy waters, and the women cooking together sharing the feast. 
Where the castes and religion cease to exist, and the life supercedes. 
#biharfloods #assamfloods #flood

Photo credit: Chinmaya N Singh

One thought on “The boats and the toads

  1. And to think that even after all these years, we have no idea how to prevent them from happening. Or rather, how to minimize the damage to life and property in floods. Indeed, it’s a festival, a festival of mourning, of death and destruction and loss.

    Nice post. A change of pace from your recent ones.

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