The Unceasing Rain

The rain falls unceasingly. Corpulent drops, ponderous with the weight of their watery load, tumble and roll from the heavens. They pound on the roof tiles dampening all other sounds, creating an impenetrable blanketing silence. A world devoid of look-here distractions.

I sit on the stone bench surrounding the central courtyard, hugging my knees close to my chest. Delinquent droplets ricochet off the pillars and walls, and pock my face. The beads band together at the peak of my cheeks, then streak their way down my face. Tears are hidden in their tracks.

I am secluded in the noisy silence. My stomach tightens with the dread of isolation, and I release what has been held back. Great racking sobs shake my whole being. I squeeze my arms around my legs tighter to stop from losing chunks of myself to the ether. A loosened grip is all that’s required for me to scatter in a hundred different directions, to never be whole again, for that last tenuous mental chord to snap before a dizzying descent into madness.

This is a visceral pain I have never known before. Flailing, inconsolable, I raise my face and wail into the falling rain. A primal, guttural sound escapes from me, bearing with it shattered dreams, dashed hopes, and the nascent pin-pricks of shame.

Was it only yesterday that the sun shone?

Was it only yesterday that I sat, bedecked in a wedding sari, jewellery draped on me like Christmas decorations, hands obscured in intricate henna patterns?

Was it only yesterday that my heart trilled, my cheeks stung from my immutable smile, my eyes averted with the coy excitement of beginning a new life?

Was it only yesterday that my skin prickled in anticipation, my fingers tingled, my toes curled, my whole being ached with the yearning for his touch?

Was it only yesterday that my ears rang to the rambunctious squeals of the shehnai, my feet tapped to the exuberant thalunk of the tabla?

Was it only yesterday that my heart shattered into a thousand darkened slivers?

My helium heart that had soared so high, began its Earthly descent with the first tenuous raindrops and soured notes of wedding music that had played too long. The guests shuffled uncomfortably, excuses were dredged for the groom’s absence, scouts were sent to uncover my suitor-errant in tarnished armour. He had disappeared completely, leaving not even a spectral trail behind.

The bustling uncles dismissed the guests, the musicians, and the caterers. The clucking aunties loosened their tongues along with their saris, alternately soothing me, and slandering my would-have-been husband and his family. I sat stoney-faced, unfeeling through it all. Perhaps my mind had already pieced together what my heart refused to acknowledge. Perhaps divorcing from reality was how my subconscious delayed the inevitable shattering of my soul.

Joy and excitement were packed neatly away with the folding chairs. Hope was swept up with the flowers and thrown into the rubbish pile behind the kitchens. Bottles of blessings, saffron, and cardamom were sealed and returned to the pantry until the next celebration. And the rain began its campaign in earnest.

As the wedding jewellery is carefully restored to its treasure box in my grandmother’s almirah, we notice my sister’s absence. She too has left no trace. And then reality dawns, its rays of awakening touching each person, their faces glowing in turn with understanding. I run to the farthest corner of the house, curling myself on the stone seating surrounding the central courtyard, and watch as the rain falls unceasingly.

21 Comments on “The Unceasing Rain”

  1. This is wonderfully crafted, Asha, from the description at the beginning, through the wedding that never happened, the well-timed reveal of the truth, and then back to the narrator on her bench. The details are beautiful, too – “Bottles of blessings, saffron, and cardamom were sealed and returned to the pantry” – I actually inhaled when I read that. I didn’t think about it from the sister and the groom’s perspective until I read your comment, but that is quite true, too.

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comments! Yes, I know what you mean about the sister. I was quite prepared to dislike her too (which sounds strange, given I wrote her… but you know… I was ready to make her all empathetic, but she decided to be a miscreant). I’m just writing a sequel to this at the moment, from the sister’s perspective as an old woman.

  2. I love the way you reveal the choices that have been made. Consequences have been spelled out for some but not for all. You left me wondering.
    Nicely done.

  3. Wow, Asha. The ending was totally unexpected. A wonderful (heartbreaking) twist of betrayal. Some really lovely imagery here, such as: “Joy and excitement were packed neatly away with the folding chairs. Hope was swept up with the flowers and thrown into the rubbish pile behind the kitchens.”

    • Thanks Meg! The end caught me a little unawares too. I hadn’t planned for it to end quite that way. Thanks so much for your very kind comments.

  4. I loved how you connected the sadness of the marriage that did not happen with the way the family went about clearing up after the failed marriage. Also, how no one noticed the missing sister until the end. I could picture myself at the wedding. Very well described.

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