Musings on a Sultry Day | Udbhavi Balakrishna
I am sitting cross-legged on cool mud in my backyard, fanning myself as sweat pours down my face and back. The sun rests high in the sky, and all attempts to save myself from heat have failed. The inside of the house is akin to a cement kiln. The gazillion fans running at full speed inside the house are not helping one bit against the heat-trapping red steel sheets and glistening marble floors.
I get up from where I was sitting, to climb upstairs and sit again, this time behind my desk, to type away notes to study for my exams. My clothes are sticking to my body like second skin and sweat adds that extra sheen no hilariously expensive highlighter could hope to do. Where I am from, summer is practically stretched out all year long. I am aware of that and yet there is nothing I wish for more than cool mornings and even cooler nights.
The weather today reminds me of summer vacations during school years. The first week of summer break always began with excitement. I harboured anticipation that that vacation would finally be the time I learnt a new instrument or did something “cool.” I hoped that I crossed something off my checklist besides “resting” and “watching anime.” By the end of that one week, however, a sort of routine would have already started to set in, which would become monotonous and boring. Two months would slip by in the blink of an eye and I would walk back to school, disappointment lying heavily on my shoulders, with nothing having changed besides my promotion to a new class. The rest of the year, I’d be busy with academics, dance and sport, but when March would roll around, I’d remember my anticipation from the past vacation and add on to it a newfound sense of hope that “this is finally THAT vacation for me!” And so it would continue every year.
This is not to say I did nothing during those summers, oh no. I did go to my maternal grandmother’s place — I plucked mangoes and stood by terrified when my cousins jumped into the murky waters in a natural pool in our areca fields. I did travel, just not as much or to places I had hoped. I watched, sang, read a lot and slept a lot more throughout. Most of all, I hoped for a more “fun and fancy” vacation. If not that year, then maybe the next, I used to tell myself.
While summer does not mean vacation anymore, it is still something I look forward to every year. Why, you ask? Because with it comes a sense of unhurried living, some more time to roll out of bed to do the same things I did all year — study, watch anime, listen to music, read, write something, get myself moving and then get into bed. Don’t get me wrong, the romanticism attached to the sweltering heat and melting ice creams (and mangoes, beaches and native places) still exists, albeit hidden under layers and layers “I need to first drink two sips of water to process one thought.” The excitement is there, it is just a little different now.
I wonder, why was there such excitement tied to the season when we were younger? Was it because as children we used this time to the fullest to channel our bursting energy and excitement to do things we found joy in? Or was it because along with the summer came more light and the promise of driving away winter blues? Or was it because the season brought in a sense of more freedom to enjoy life as it happened, without the stresses of adulting? I briefly consider it. Perhaps, that was what it was. I realise that I do not know the answer. Maybe I’ll learn it this summer as I bemoan the sweltering heat?
Written by Udbhavi