Romancing the rain


When it pours, Islamabad is heavenly, pure and simple

Rain in Islamabad does much to lift the mood but often dampen the spirit in twin Rawalpindi as was the case over the weekend. Few gifts of Nature are given to such competing moods.

There are few capitals in the world which look as serene and a picture of heartfelt joy as Islamabad when it pours. The scenic mountain backdrop and the vast greenbelt (admittedly, disappearing into a concrete belt lately) are a sight for sore eyes.

When it rains, light or heavy, Islamabad is heavenly, pure and simple.

To continue the sublime journey of what it is like when the capital gets a shower, well the atmosphere is thick with romance it urges, implores and begs to be partaken.

If theres one city of joy in Pakistan, which merits a long drive under the weather, it has to be the picturesque seat of the federation. Double the fun, if you also have a suitably inclined taste for music to make the downpour journey count on the road!

Everyone has his or her own favourite rain music ranging from the classical ragas to heavy metal and all the in-betweens. But how many can supersede the childhood memories that Jagjit Singh evokes in discerning how rain played on our minds then?

Lets take a verse for better, not worse:

Ye daulat bhi le lo,

ye shohrat bhi le lo

bhale chheen lo

mujh se meri javaani

magar mujh ko lauta do

bachpan ka saavan

woh kaaghaz ki kashti,

woh baarish ka paani

(Take away this wealth,

take this fame, too

Snatch away my youth,

if you will

But return to me,

the monsoon of childhood,

the paper boat,

that water of the rain)

It would be a misfortune not to behold the joy of the rain song played out in the vast expanse of Islamabad (the under construction underpasses and flyovers notwithstanding).

When it pours, the scenic capital will likely seize the senses unless mind-over-matter trivializes the issue. For the pedestrian, such delight comes like Natures free ticket to bliss.

And for those, who have graduated from school/college/university to practical life, the longing to experience the wet world outside (long drive, great company, good music, hot food you get the drift) during work hours is near-palpable.

With the wanting however, must come the haunting: rain brings melancholy aplenty for those, who have taken the beaten track. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow gives them voice in his poem The Rainy Day. A couple of verses:

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;

It rains, and the wind is never weary;

My thoughts still cling to the moldering past,

But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast

And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.

So is rain all gain and no pain in the twin cities?

One runs the risk of being lynched in this space, if rain merely sounds like music to the ears as many a fellow citizen in twin cousin Pindi will vouch. They will likely want to break free of the fantasy and deem it every bit the menace, reminiscent of a rhyme we heard as children entitled Rain, Rain Go Away with its many variants such as:

Rain, rain go to Spain,

Never show your face again

Whilst on the theme, one could always trust late Parveen Shakir, a poet with the most known Islamabad domicile, to draw the meanderings of the heart:

Baarish hui tau phoolon kay tan chaak ho gaye

mausam ke haath bheeg kay saffaak ho gaye

baadal ko kyaa khabar ke baarish ki chaah main

kitne buland-o-baalaa shajar khaak ho gaye

(With the rain have the flower buds blossomed,

Wet at the weathers hands, they have come into their own,

Know not the clouds that in the desire for rain

Have the mighty and low trees fallen to the ground)

Heavy rain can put the skids on movement both literally and figuratively. Where Islamabad usually holds up well, save for few locations where drainage does not quite match the rest of the planned capital, Rawalpindi is easily entrapped almost as if the ancient city had sins to wash. The contrast is such that it almost appears as if the garrison city had a garrulous sibling rivalry.

A true reflection of this in Rawalpindi is the unleashing of the cats and dogs variety. Lying low there does not quite help as is evident in the deluge that flows through low lying areas like Leh. They would rather have the sun shine like there was no tomorrow.

Ah, the pleasure and the pain of the rain!

The writer is a newspaper editor based in Islamabad. He can be reached at [email protected]