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   And last night, as the city slept, summer ended and the monsoon began. (April 6, 1993)

The rains came, across the sea and over the island and into my bedroom, not sneaking in like a thief in the night, but with thunder and lightning. It was the wind that first woke me up, the advance guard of the south-west monsoon, bursting into the house and cross-ventilating through it, scattering about curtains, papers, carrying with it the aromas from its last ports-of-call - spices from Cochin, coconuts and the cashew flower from Goa. Then followed the lightning, streaks of electricity illuminating the night skies magenta blue and ash white, and, a fraction of a second later, thunder rolling across the same skies. The rains followed, like men in a wedding procession, bringing in the rearguard, after the women and children.It is a familiar sound that I will be hearing through the season, from June to mid-September, the rain clattering on the roof, a steady drumming on the window panes, waking me up from the sleep in spite of all its regularity and familiarity. Last night, of course, I was already awake before the first drops hit the roof, admiring the son-et-lumiere show over the seas, watching the waters turning rough, wondering if the fishermen had been warned well in advance of the approach of the rains. The fishermen, though, do not have to be warned, they have their own methods of forecasting an approaching storm - the experienced wizened eye constantly straining towards the horizon.Over the years, my senses have also been trained for the first rains. I knew it yesterday evening from the yellow translucent light that filtered over parts of the city at sunset time.

I knew that the rains had left the Konkan coast, were dropping heavy gallons of water over the Mahabaleswhar headland, and would sometime in the middle of the night be in the city.So I was actually waiting for them, asleep and yet awake, my ears trained for the first rumble of the monsoon - Manohar Malgoankar's distant drums, though his were the drums of war.And I heard them first, a faint roll in the distance, then growing louder with each new bolt of lightning, then the deep thunder, the monsoon alarm. In the distance, across the Colaba harbour, I could see the beams of the lighthouse sweeping past every forty seconds. They seemed to know as much about the monsoon as I did. When I finally fell asleep, it was still raining, a gentle hammering on the roof and the windows. But, in the morning, the sea had returned to its summer calm; the skies were cloudless. only the roads were wet to remind me of last night's rains. It will rain again tonight, and tomorrow night, and the night after. The pattern is set; monsoon is here.

 
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