Saturday, June 8, 2013

We are waiting for the monsoon. The earth around here has heated till the water on it boils and rises and hangs in the air in a dense, humid cloud. Breathing is difficult and smells never dissipate. We are surrounded by the unmistakeable smell of rot.
It is in the flesh of the mangoes, too soft, too yielding. They begin to rot from the moment they are picked. The flesh, once so firm and turgid, putrefies into an acidic slurry. There is the smell of sweat in the streets, the sweat of thousands, walking, their heads bowed under the assault of the sun. They plod past, dimly seeking shade, and relief. We spray scents to cover the smell of sweat, and they linger in the air, too heavy, too floral... unnatural. The flowers shrivel quickly, their petals curling and turning brown, as their stems, buried in water in a hopeless effort to keep them alive, turn grey and gangrenous. Food begins to spoil from the moment it is lifted off the stove. We smother it in spice to keep from remembering that we are eating dead things.
All this is captured in the windless air, collapsing around us with impenetrable lassitude. This is it: the smell of rot, of cloying sweetness and of decay, of the sense that we can't carry on much longer, in this manner. This is how it will smell when the world ends, when the rains don't come any more.
But not yet. The rains will come this year; the satellites say so. We wait for it and count off the days. We watch maps charting its progress and listen for the weatherman. We wander about with dull, heavy-eyed hope, while the sunshine clubs our eyelids.
It is the greatest theatre known to us. First will come the clouds, then the wind, then the expectation. This will happen over and over again, working our nerves into a frenzy that goes far past the unbearable. We will come to a standstill, all our senses trained upwards in mute hope. Then and only then will the skies split apart, and bring down the deluge.

No comments:

Post a Comment