Until recently, there had been two constant factors in Suresh’s life which he could expect each day upon waking. One he had felt was an irritating intrusion, which he greatly dreaded and loathed, as it made him cringe and his skin crawl just at the thought of it. This was due to a buffalo, in the rural neighbourhood setting of Lakeside where Suresh resided, which had a terrible habit of often emitting loud urgent bellows as if it were in great pain. It didn’t matter if it was to middle of the night while everyone was trying to sleep, early in the morning just as everyone woke, or in the evening when people tried to relax after the heat of the day.
Whereas the other continual aspect he saw as a most heavenly vision, one that he desperately anticipated each late afternoon, and which filled him with an immense excitement and a powerful surge of happiness each time her image registered in the pleasure centre of his brain. This was his monsoon love, his goddess of the greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella, his rainy-day Rani, the ramro keti who gave him the motivation necessary to get through each dreary day.
The reason these two events were recent was due to the fact Suresh, 28, clean-shaven with Aryan features, had been transferred from a shared small stuffy windowless office, cluttered with bureaucratic forms in triplicate, where he had held a Government job in Kathmandu, to a small stuffy shared office, cluttered with bureaucratic forms in triplicate, in Pokhara. Generally his job involved filing complex memos, in triplicate, on topics like not using the hollow plastic tube of Government issued pens as spit ball guns during office hours. Boring stuff to be sure, but somehow such work was quite necessary in keeping the Government of Nepal running smoothly as usual.
Therefore it would have made no difference what location he might find himself working, since the job details were exactly the same whether he was working in the capital or at Lakeside, nor was there any difference in salary. Nonetheless, on this occasion he had one complaint about his Pokhara transfer, even though he had a window in his new office (a luxury which he had begged and prayed for throughout his five years of working in Kathmandu), and that was the terrible weather.
The problem was that he had transferred just at the start of the monsoon, and having arrived from the dryer capital district, he had not been prepared for the copious amount of rain the Pokhara region received each afternoon. Furthermore, having to see the heavy deluge just outside his window towards the end of his busy work day had the negative effect of making him rather depressed. That of course all changed once his lovely monsoon maiden made her first appearance…
The first occasion, on which Suresh noticed his rainy-day Rani, happened one afternoon a week after his transfer, as he complained about the weather for the umpteenth time to his co-worker Bikash. -Well, if the rain really inconveniences you that much, Bikash who was the same age and office rank as Suresh replied, -then close the window and pretend that you’re back in your stuffy windowless office in Kathmandu. Therefore Suresh proceeded to do so, but as he reached through the security barrier to close the window casement, that was when she casually moved into his view.
It was a heavy driven rain rattling on the office tin roof, falling more like sheets of water rather than drops, all the same she stepped lightly along the footpath almost as if dancing to some light-hearted Bollywood tune. This goddess of the rain had a dreadful greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella, which soon became her trademark as far as Suresh was concerned, and on this occasion she was apparently dressed for some sort of office work. Perhaps she was a secretary in one of the other nearby Government offices, Suresh thought, or for some private business, or possibly she was a teacher in a private school.
In any case, she wore black low heeled shoes with buckles, and black stockings which moved up her long extremely shapely legs from the tapering of her dainty ankles, along the lovely curve of the back of her calf muscles, to just above the roundness of her knees. Oh, but then there were those charming thighs, with a half inch gap between the top of the stockings and the bottom of her short dark blue skirt which flashed the toffee colour of her skin.
Suresh was quite amazed at how that short skirt hugged the lovely curves of her broad hips so tightly, and the way that those hips moved with a delightful seductive sway when she walked. She was also wearing a light brown cardigan, which seemed to perfectly accentuate her slim torso and her firm well-proportioned breasts, indeed Suresh felt that she had the loveliest body of any female he had seen (including those in his imported collection of erotic magazines).
Ah, and then her beautiful face…actually, the level and angle that she was holding the umbrella, the whole time as she passed within Suresh’s view, only allowed him to see the bottom of her chin at most. Still, with a body as beautiful as hers, Suresh was quite certain that her face would be nothing less than positively stunning!-Well, are you going to close the window or just stand there brooding for the rest of the day, Bikash inquired in an irked manner after a while, -or did you plan a bandh but forgot to tell me, hmm? -No, it’s not that, Suresh breathlessly replied, -I think I’ve just seen a goddess dancing in the rain.
-Oh really, Bikash commented coming to the window to see for himself, -I didn’t think it was a holy day, and me with nothing to give puja with. -No, Suresh replied, -I’m talking about the girl there with the greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella; she is my goddess of the monsoon. -Ah yes, Bikash nodded, -she is not bad looking, I see her passing by this window three or four days a week maybe, I think she works in a college office part time.
-Do you know her then, Suresh urgently begged, -what is her name, can you introduce me to her… -How can I do any of that when I hardly know her myself, Bikash shrugged, -I said I have only seen her out the window, the rest you will have to do on your own. -And on your own time, their boss standing directly behind them called out, -for a moment I thought my watch was an hour and a half slow, but it turns out your watches are too fast, now back to work.
Until his work was finished for the day, Suresh squandered most of his time day dreaming about his enchanting monsoon love, trying to imagine what her face looked like, and wishing that he knew her name and that soon he might get a chance to talk with her, perhaps it would lead to romance and even marriage.
It was the same when he had arrived home, as through most of the evening he couldn’t stop thinking of her, even the irritating frantic grunts of pain from the neighbourhood’s manic depressed buffalo couldn’t deter his thoughts of her for long. All Suresh had to do was to close his eyes and then there she was dancing through his mind, like Juhi Chawla to the song Aur Kiya, with her greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella.
The following morning Suresh’s sleep, and the pleasant dreams there within, were finally shattered by the loud depressed bellowing of the neighbourhood’s frantic buffalo, however he knew that the subject of those slumbering images would soon improve his mood. Therefore he felt that he couldn’t get to work and through the hectic day fast enough to satisfy his desire to see his attractive monsoon love again.
All day long at his cluttered desk Suresh had to sort through stacks of important Government forms, on the proper usage of paperclips, in duplicate, to make sure that the Nepali Government was all in order. It was a job made all the more irritating and frustrating as he would be halfway through one set of complex forms, start thinking of his goddess in the rain, forget what he was doing and then would have to start all over again.
-Hello, are you in there? Bikash inquired on another occasion when Suresh had lost his concentration. -Hmm, what’s that? -I asked if you wanted a cup of chiya, Bikash replied, -but if you’re too busy staring off into space, perhaps not.-Do you really think that she will come again, Suresh later wondered as they drank their tea. -Who, oh, you mean your umbrella goddess from yesterday afternoon, Bikash replied, -well I can’t say for sure today if she will, but most days certainly. But you really shouldn’t waste your time, if you don’t know who she is or where she lives, and she only passes by while you are supposed to be working, then how will you ever meet her?
Still, later that afternoon as the rains began rattling on the roof, Suresh kept stealing quick fugitive glances out the window, desperately hoping to spy the greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella. However four o’clock, the time at which she had passed the window yesterday, had come and gone and yet there was no sign of her or the umbrella. In fact Suresh was about to give-up on the reliability of Bikash’s information, when lo and behold the much awaited umbrella mercifully came into view.
Once more she was wearing the black shoes with the buckles on her graceful feet, black stockings covering her long unbelievably racy legs, followed by the hip hugging dark short skirt with that seductive sway. Oh, how he would have liked to be out there following behind her, and with the handle of his umbrella to gently lift the hem of her skirt to see what colour…ah, but that is how young men get arrested! It was much warmer, nor was the rain as heavy as the previous day, so instead of the brown cardigan she wore a white blouse. Nonetheless, once again she held the umbrella in such a way and at such an angle that he still couldn’t see her bloody face, though he watched until she was gone from view.
That evening, laying his head upon his pillow, he hopped for some mitho sapana of his ramro keti, yet soon as he had closed his eyes and had begun to drift off, the night’s serenity was shattered by the urgent painful sounding grunts of the neighbourhood’s depressed buffalo, this time seeming more desperate than ever before. Off and on throughout the night it continued bellowing, apparently keeping most of the community awake, since each time he looked outside he saw the windows of various homes were still lit. In the end he sat-up, swatting mosquitoes while listening to a loud chorus of frogs and watching firefly’s doing their mating dances in the makai field next to his residence, wishing that he and his lovely umbrella goddess were firefly’s too.
Suresh hadn’t pinpointed yet exactly where the buffalo in question was located, but slowly he was working that out, he was aware it didn’t belong to any of his immediate neighbours, though many of them did own such livestock. In the mornings he was too busy getting ready for work to bother finding out, and in the evening when he returned home he was too hot and tired, but on Saturday he would find the location of that buffalo for sure.
For there is nothing worse than having a most delightful slumbering image of the love of your life, and just as you are about to lift the edge of her greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella to kiss her beautiful face and ask her name, instead it was a bhaisi’s head on that incredibly sexy body, her mouth opening to emit a painfully distressed grunt! So it wasn’t so surprising that Suresh was rather worse for wear looking and a bit rattled as well the following morning.
Every work day Suresh would then hurry through his never-ending workload, making reports on the sharpness of all the pencils used by the office workers, making sure the pencils were not too dull or too sharp (use ten full rotations of the hand crank, nine and three quarters is too few and the pencil isn’t sharp enough to be an efficient tool; ten and a quarter rotations is too many, the lead becomes brittle and easily breaks which is a terrible waste of office resources). So he was busy head down stamping and signing already approved forms and sending the rejected ones to their appropriate department for alterations, all while trying not to become too distracted by his goddess in the rain with the greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella.
All the same, he frantically looked forward to the rattling afternoon rain, desperately awaiting his rainy-day Rani’s arrival. Indeed he no longer took his tea break at the usual time, but waited until around four o’clock so that he could casually gaze out the window without getting a reprimand from his boss, as had already happened on two occasions.
Even so, on each of those days Suresh had been joyfully rewarded by a thrilling glimpse of his monsoon goddess and her umbrella, but gradually he was finding it greatly exasperating that he had not yet seen her face. In fact, by now he had come to realize that every other person walking passed that window, with an umbrella, showed most if not all of their face, but not her, as if she did it on purpose to frustrate and tempt him!
Suresh’s monsoon goddess didn’t always dress the same way each day, on a couple of occasions she wore form hugging blue jeans rolled-up to mid-calf and a white Death Note t-shirt with a tauntingly low neck-line and blue rubber flip-flops. At first he thought that it was a different girl, who just happened to have the same umbrella, in a similar condition (as unlikely as that would be), but with that seductive sway of her hips and the fact that she held her umbrella in such a way so that he couldn’t see her face only verified that it was his rainy-day Rani.
A few times she had also worn a dark brown kamij with a white floral pattern around the deep neck-line, and light brown salwar pants (almost matching the toffee colour of her skin) along with a similar coloured silk scarf draped over her throat and the backs of her shoulders. No matter what she might wear, Suresh felt that her clothing fully accentuated the sexiness of her perfectly sculptured body, oh and how he wished he could have been the sculptor, running his hands over all those delightfully polished curves!
Nonetheless, though the rainy afternoons had now become the very high-light of his often chaotic day, his mornings, evenings and often even his nights were a nerve wracking horror due to the blasted manic depressed bhaisi constantly grunting and bellowing in its painful distress. Saturday, being his day off, he finally went on a search of the neighbourhood, to find out where the poor manic depressed beast was kept, and was surprised at how far from his place it was, since the buffalo had always sounded so near.
Apparently the beast’s owner lived in a simple two room breeze block hovel, which had been once been painted purple with white trimmings but since then the colour had faded and the white had turned greyish, momentarily making Suresh think of his monsoon maiden. However, call out as he might, and even opening the broken gate and knocking on the wooden door, Suresh didn’t receive any answer so he assumed that the owner wasn’t home.
To one side of the hovel was the buffalo shelter, made of a bamboo framework and covered with tarps for protection from the rain and sun, and the buffalo in question was within it. The shelter appeared quite clean and spacious, and the bhaisi had lots of buffalo grass and water within reach, therefore there certainly didn’t seem to be any reason for it to be so sad and emit such distressed sounding grunts and bellows, but that was what it was doing as he watched. In any case there wasn’t much Suresh could do about it for the time being, so he would return home and try to meet with the buffalo’s owner on another occasion, maybe they could talk about some solution to all the dreadful noise it made.
The next working day, Suresh’s goddess of the umbrella didn’t appear outside his office window at all, indeed he kept watching for her to appear in the heavy rattling rain until almost a quarter to five, which was long after his allotted tea break had ended. However, he would have gone on gazing through the window longer had it not been for the boss breathing hot and moist, in a livid way, down the back of his neck! After all he still had to copy out, in triplicate, an important memo that employees should not use computers when intense electrical storms are in the local vicinity.
The fact that his monsoon love did not show-up caused Suresh some concern, wondering if she had passed by earlier and he had foolishly missed her, or she had been sick and desperately needed someone to nurse her back to health (maybe a sponge bath and massage as well), or even though it was the start of the week maybe she had a day off work? Surely it couldn’t be anything more than those possibilities, Suresh thought to himself, tomorrow she will pass by my window again and all will be back to normal.
However the following day, when once more she didn’t appear, it threw Suresh into a panic attack, wondering if he would ever see her again, what if she had suddenly moved or been transferred to another city or country? How would he ever find her now, or what her name was, how could they get married and have lots of children if they weren’t even on the same side of the globe?
To make matters worse, his neighbourhood’s manic depressant buffalo was acting-up again, keeping half of the small urban community awake throughout the humid mosquito infested night. Therefore that only added on to Suresh’s swiftly growing anxiety, and soon his work efficiency began to drop to the point that the boss was complaining. Luckily Bikash then explained, without mentioning about the umbrella goddess, that it was a neighbourhood bhaisi preventing Suresh from receiving a proper night’s rest and causing his work to suffer. -Normally you are a very good worker, the boss then kindly told Suresh, -and so I ignore your unusual tea break time and staring out the window toward the end of the day, but try to get more rest, if in a day or two your work doesn’t improve I’ll have you transferred back to Kathmandu.
-Here, come with me for a while, you look like you could use a drink and a bit of company, Bikash suggested as he and Suresh were about to leave the office for the day, -and I know the perfect spot to get a bit of raksi and delicious Newari drinking snacks. Bikash then brought him to a rural part of lakeside, much like Suresh’s residence area, passing a chorus of frogs and countless fireflies adrift in the surrounding fields of makai, on their way to a small breeze block structure with a woven bamboo mat roof.
-This is very serious isn’t it, Bikash inquired as they sat on the wooden benches at a table in the back of a hole-in-the-wall Nepali style speakeasy, -let me be your agony aunt so to speak, so tell me everything that’s bothering you. After a moment’s hesitation Suresh told Bikash exactly how he felt about the girl, his concerns about her sudden disappearance, and next he asked for advice; then he spoke about the sad buffalo, how he had tried to talk to the owner, and how the loud painful sounding bellowing was robbing him of vital sleep.
For an hour or so Suresh talked while Bikash politely listened with interest and concern, during which they drank two bottles of raksi, ate a plate roasted soybeans mixed with spices, onion and tomato each and shared a plate of sukuti. -Well, I said not to waste your time on that girl didn’t I, Bikash finally replied, -there isn’t much I can help you with there since I don’t know her, but she is likely just sick or away for a few days, tomorrow or the next day she will be back.
-As for the bhaisi, I suggest that you buy a kg or two of sweet apples to feed it, then it should be happy for at least a few days, then you will be able to have a couple of good night’s sleep, and be able to think more clearly about this goddess in the rain of yours. What you should do now is go home and have a proper dal bhat, go to bed early and get a good rest; tomorrow keep an eye open for your monsoon maiden, but even if she doesn’t show-up so what? Your main problem for the time being is that depressed bhaisi, tomorrow after work buy a few kg of sweet apples and feed them to the buffalo, or give them to the owner to feed the buffalo, then at least you will have one less worry.
Suresh took Bikash up on his advice, and the next day during the heavy rattling afternoon rain he tried not to be too perturbed when, for a third time in a row, his umbrella goddess disappointed him by not appearing. After work, Suresh went to the market and bought three kg of sweet apples, though it was not sasto cha, but ke garne, if it bought him a few nights of peace then it would be worth it.
This time as he approached the buffalo shelter there were signs that the owner was home, such as a tinny sounding radio playing within the hovel and smoke from a cooking fire out the back of the structure. Suresh called out a few times so as to avoid surprising the occupants, but getting no reply, he then slowly proceeded toward the buffalo to feed it the apples. However, before he could feed the first apple to the pathetic bhaisi, he heard a young woman behind him fiercely demanding, -Hajoor!
When Suresh turned around he was standing face to face with an attractive woman in her early-twenties wearing a low neck line red kamij covered with white flower designs and white salwar pants with thin red stripes. What quickly caught his attention about her were the similarities of her body form and that of his rainy-day Rani, even the toffee colour of her skin was close, but not quite so. Ah, but this girl’s face…with her smooth complexion, small nose, and large almond shaped eyes with a thin line of black kohl around the edges was nice, especially as she wore no other make-up. But she wore glasses with round lenses, which Suresh was discovering he found striking; furthermore, she had her long silky black hair pinned-up to the back of her head with a hair clip, leaving the back of her neck bare, which he found even more sensual.
-What are you doing here, who said you could feed my buffalo, and those apples had better not be poisoned! -Of course these apples aren’t poisoned, Suresh returned once he had a chance, -I just thought… -Let me see you eat one then, she demanded crossing her arms over her well-developed chest, -a few people in the neighbourhood have already tried to harm her, because of all the noise she makes, poor sweet thing.
-Well, that’s why I was giving your bhaisi these sweet apples, Suresh replied while eating one to prove it was safe, -to try and make her feel happier. -Still, let me see you eat one or two more apples, she answered, -no, I’ll pick them, besides don’t you think I would have thought of that already? -So what is wrong with your buffalo that makes it sound so depressed anyway? -She is a bit love sick, the girl replied, -I think she feels it is time for her to make a calf.
-What, Suresh answered, -are you serious, how can you tell? -I just have my ways, she replied again getting on the defensive; -I have raised her since she was a calf so I know her moods better than anyone! -Then why not borrow one of the neighbour’s rango’s to get her pregnant, Suresh suggested, -surely there must be a few male buffalo about the area, and I’m sure the neighbours would help out if it means peace and quiet for them.
-No that wouldn’t work either, the girl then pouted (which Suresh found rather alluring), - I’ve already tried that, she wants a full-time husband to make lots of babies, that’s why I’ve been trying to save money from my part-time jobs to buy a bull, but it is so expensive. -Yes it is quite expensive isn’t it, Suresh nodded, though he had no idea about such things, being a city boy and all, -but perhaps I could help you out… -No, I don’t want other people’s charity, the girl became aggressive, -so you can just leave the apples and go away from here, just leave me alone to solve my own problems.
-But if it’s for the good of the communities’ peace and quiet then it’s not charity, Suresh began as she started pushing him out of her yard, -and maybe I can get the other neighbours to help raise the money. Wait, before you push me away completely, at least tell me your name. At that she stopped pushing for a second, blushed a little as she turned away, -Anu is my name, now go and don’t bother me again, she finished as she walked out of view with a seductive sway of the hips, around to the back of her hovel where her cooking fire was.
-So, did you feed the sweet apples to the depressed buffalo yesterday evening, Bikash inquired in the morning at work, -will you and your neighbours finally be able to get some peaceful rest at night? -I didn’t feed them to the bhaisi, but I left the sweet apples with the owner, Suresh cheerfully replied, -but I did find out what is wrong with the buffalo. But more importantly I met with a goddess yesterday! -What, another one, Bikash remarked rolling his eyes, -who was it and where, did you get to see this one’s face at least, besides what about your umbrella goddess, have you forgotten her already?
-This one is the owner of the manic depressed buffalo, Suresh replied, -her name is Anu, and she has a body almost as nice as my monsoon love, but this one’s face isn’t as nice as my goddess in the rain’s face… -Wait, how can you compare the face of your bhaisi goddess with the face of your umbrella goddess when you have only seen the face of the former one, hmm, if you are this fickle with your love then you don’t deserve either goddess.
-Well, the way I imagine my monsoon love’s face to look, compared to the face of the buffalo owner, Suresh explained, -I mean the bhaisi owner’s face is quite nice even though she wears glasses, but I’m still very loyal to my goddess in the rain. Now all I have to do is get her pregnant… -What, who, Bikash exclaimed in surprise, -your umbrella goddess who you don’t even know, or the bhaisi goddess who you just met yesterday!
-No, the buffalo, Suresh began… -What! Is this some strange sexual preference you’ve suddenly developed because you are missing your umbrella goddess, Bikash wondered even more shocked, -or is this some effect your bhaisi goddess has had on you? -No, to solve the situation with the manic depressed bhaisi all that is needed is a rango, so I will save up money, or start a collection in the neighbourhood since this is the communities’ problem, and then no more noise at night or during the day.
-Meanwhile I will have to wait and see if my rainy-day Rani returns, but even if she never does, then I suppose I can always focus my affections toward my bhaisi goddess. -Good, then if all your worries are solved for the time being, let’s get back to work shall we, their boss commented while roughly grabbing them both by the back of their collars, -as we have quite the work load to get finished today!
Throughout the day Suresh tripled his usual work effort, head bent low to all of the forms, time tables and Government schedules he had to go over in triplicate, busy crossing I’s and dotting T’s, granting travel documents for people’s pets but not their wives (As was current Government policy, not his personal choice), all to make sure the politicians had their roast chickens to eat at the end of the day. All the while he was wondering how much an adult male buffalo might cost, could he afford to buy one over a short period of time if he further tightened his already very tight budget, of course it would be best if the community pitched in to help, but would they, or were they mean spirited people who didn’t want to do anything, especially if it was for their own good?
As the heavy afternoon rains began, and it came on four o’clock, Suresh was all set for his greatly anticipated daily tea break, and so began gazing out the window in the hope of spying his lovely monsoon love. However, for the fourth day in a row it seemed that she would not show-up, as four o’clock became a quarter past and still no sign of her approach. But then at the very last minute, just as he was turning away from the window to go back to his work, Suresh saw her arrive into view from out the corner of his eye.
The first thing he noticed was of course the trade mark greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella, and her seductive sway of those well rounded hips, then he realized that she was not in her usual office dress, or in a kamij and salwar combo, but nor was she in the snug blue jeans rolled-up to mid-calf. On this occasion she was wearing baggy green and black tartan shorts which came down to mid knee, on her feet were a pair of black rubber flip-flops, and her purple and white t-shirt only came down so far that an inch or so of her mid-drift was displayed, making Suresh’s eyes pop-out.
Yes! The more flesh shown then the better Suresh was thinking, if she was to wear nothing then he would be extremely happy, though no doubt she would still have that umbrella and, like now, would be holding it in such a way so as to hide her face. Though once again he didn’t get a chance to see her face, but for the first time he did catch a brief glimpse of her hair from behind, as she bent down to adjust a strap of her chappal, thereby transferring the umbrella from one hand to the other, and thus its angle altered.
He discovered that she had her silky black hair in a long braid tied at the end with a blue ribbon, much as he had always imagined it to be, therefore he became more confident that her face was much as he had always envisioned it as well. In any case, at least now he knew that his goddess in the rain was back, that she hadn’t moved to Mayne Island, British Columbia, or anything crazy like that, so he still had a chance to win her over.
That evening at home cooking his dal bhat, he was quite pleased, he now knew that his monsoon love was safe and sound, and the neighbourhood was quiet and peaceful (apart from a few baking dogs), no doubt thanks to the manic depressed buffalo enjoying the sweet apples. In a day or two he would ask around the community for donations towards buying a rango for Anu, maybe he could even get that done before the bhaisi ate all of the sweet apples.
That night he had a number of unusual dreams, most of which involved a heavy rattling rain and his monsoon maiden, who was wearing the red kamij with low neck line covered with white flower designs and the white salwar pants with thin red stripes that Anu had been dressed in. In fact, at first he thought it was Anu, but she had the greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella, and as usual she was using it to block her face from Suresh’s view.
Besides, Anu was also in his dream, only she was wearing the black shoes with buckles, the black stockings that only came to above her knees, the short dark blue skirt which didn’t quite cover the tops of the stockings, and the brown cardigan over her slim but busty torso. She also had an umbrella, Suresh noticing that it was his old dark grey one, however Anu was clearly showing her face, and with a hair clip had her long silky black hair folded up against the back of her head.
Suresh, for some reason he couldn’t quite fathom, was riding on the back of the manic depressed bhaisi, getting soaked to the skin since Anu had his umbrella and he was only dressed in his usual office clothes. As he approached the two lovely ramro keti, they began to call out to him, -Which one of us do you want for your wife, which one of us will you choose to have your children with, which one of us do you find most attractive?
-How about if I pick both of you, Suresh replied rather hopeful in his growing excitement, -that way all three of us can be happy. -No, you have to pick one of us, Anu replied, followed by which the umbrella goddess said, -otherwise you will lose your chance for either of us. -Then before I choose let me see your face, Suresh asked of his rainy-day Rani; however soon as those words had left his lips he awoke with a shock, and was greatly disappointed upon realizing where he was…
The next morning Suresh was all a frustrated confusion, but in a happy way, over which girl he should love, his monsoon maiden in the mist or his bhaisi beauty, though he was quite certain that he loved them both equally. He had seen the former girl and had fallen in love with her first, and so he felt he should stay loyal; ah, but he knew the latter girl better, having actually met and spoken with her once. Then again, he already had one commitment with the buffalo goddess; but none yet with the umbrella goddess, oh maybe once he sorted out the problem with Anu’s bhaisi then he might look at his options with a clearer head.
Once again he worked away like a slave, with all of his usual work efficiency, making sure all Government Issue rubber bands were not being used in such a way so as to take out any co-worker’s eyes. Then when the late afternoon rain came rattling on the office tin roof, he was ready for his tea break and to gaze out the window while waiting for his maiden in the rain to show. She certainly didn’t disappoint him on this occasion, once again she was dressed in black shoes and stockings, with a short dark blue skirt and white blouse, which suddenly gave Suresh an outlandish impulse to rush out into the driving rain and stop her before she might slip once again from his view.
That way he would finally see her face, and could ask her name and where she lived, and half a dozen other questions he was dying to ask her, like would she go out with him on a date at the cinema house? However, he then felt his boss’ heavy presence hanging over him, as if the shadow of the grim reaper, radiating waves of disapproval, so he thought better than to blindly follow his impulses and went back to his work.
For the next hour and a half he buried himself in whatever office tasks he had left for that day, after which instead of going straight home he paid a visit to his neighbours, to talk to them about a donation to buy Anu a rango to keep her bhaisi happy, and thereby bringing peace and quiet to the community. Many people in the neighbourhood thought this was a good idea and gave Suresh anywhere from a few hundred rupees up to a thousand rupees; other people thought it a big waste of time, besides the buffalo wasn’t making any noise now; so they said. So Suresh explained that the bhaisi was quiet for the time being because he had given it sweet apples. -Then keep giving it sweet apples, the people replied before slamming their door on him.
During his canvassing of the community, on a number of occasions Suresh had strong urges to go and visit Anu, just to see if she was home and how she was doing, chat with her for a while, maybe buy her some more sweet apples. But he knew that if he did visit her, then he would never get around to everyone in the area, and still get home in time to make his dal bhat. In any case he had collected a few thousand rupees so far; combined with the money he was personally putting forth he figured he was well on the way to buying a rango. If tomorrow he could collect the same amount from the others he didn’t get to, or if the bhaisi made a lot of noise in the night, maybe those who slammed their door on him would change their minds.
Actually, once again it was a relatively quiet night, apart from the loud choir of frogs in the fields of makai; the occasional dog barking at jackals or tigers; and the odd soft grunt of a nearby bhaisi in its sleep. Suresh’s sleep was broken however by more conflicting dreams of his goddess in the rain and of Anu and her buffalo, again having to choose between the two but not wanting to pick one over the other, only to wake with a start when he took too long to decide. Nonetheless, it made him resolve that somehow or another, today or the next, he would find a way of getting to his monsoon love, find out who she was and tell her how he felt, even if she slapped him in the face then he would still have an answer.
The next morning when he arrived at work he was surprised when Bikash handed him a thousand rupee note, -For your rango, he explained, -I hope you get Anu’s bhaisi happily pregnant, but just be careful how involved you get, otherwise you might end-up getting Anu pregnant as well, hmm! What shocked Suresh even more was when his boss slipped him a few hundred rupees, -Hurry-up and get your girlfriend that buffalo, the boss crossly said, -maybe then you’ll be able to concentrate on your work more!
Throughout the rest of that day Suresh put in an extra effort into his work, partly to hide his embarrassment and guilt from accepting the donations from Bikash and his boss, but mainly to get his work out of the way as quickly as possible. However you can only sort through stacks of forms, in triplicate, on the proper procedure of making a perfect cup of tea at a certain steady pace, sort too quickly through those stacks and you might miss a vital error in those forms, and then how could the office staff ever make a perfect cup of tea ever again?
Meanwhile he searched on the internet how much an adult male buffalo might cost, and was pleased that he had almost collected enough, if he could gather a bit more from the community, and tightened his budget a bit more, then he would have the amount necessary. If that was the case, then he could give Anu the money tonight, so that she could buy the rango over the next few days, since he hadn’t a clue about purchasing livestock.
All this time he was frantically awaiting the heavy afternoon rain to arrive, his ears straining for the first few rattling drops on the tin roof, and the cooling squalls of wind which would follow, and then of course his rainy-day Rani would grace him with a brief appearance. Yet four o’clock eventually approached and not a drop of pani had fallen so far, and therefore it seemed like this would be one of those rare Pokhara monsoon days without any rain. This only got Suresh’s hopes up even higher, thinking he would finally see her face, since she wouldn’t need the umbrella…
Suresh was forgetting one thing, how Nepali women are very concerned about keeping their skin as fair as possible, so whether it was to protect her from the lashing rain or from the aging rays of the hot cruel sun, she would have the umbrella regardless. On this occasion she was once more dressed in the black stockings, short dark blue skirt and white blouse, and as usual she kept her face well hidden. Therefore, once more Suresh felt compelled to run out of the office and grab hold of her arms, pulling her towards him…
But then he felt the boss’ donation sitting in his pocket like a lump of warm lead holding him back. Besides, it also reminded him of his commitment to Anu, get that sorted out first and then he would be free to pursue his monsoon love. Ah, but it was making him twitchy and feeling jittery, not being able to move in any direction yet with his affection, so the sooner it was sorted out the better.
That evening after work again he talked to people in his community, those who he hadn’t met with yet and those who had rejected him before, about helping to buy Anu a rango, sometimes it was a bit of a struggle but nonetheless he soon received enough money for Anu’s buffalo. Therefore without any further hesitation he went over to her hovel, feeling quite confident she would be home, then he would hand her the money and that would be the end of his commitment to her.
Anu, wearing the red with white flower kamij and white with red striped salwar pants, was over by the buffalo shelter when Suresh arrived, apparently she was leaning over toward the bhaisi and either talking with it or feeding it some of the last sweet apples, so Suresh loudly called out -Hajoor.
At that her body went ridged, she then quickly removed her round rimmed glasses, wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and replaced the glasses, before she finally stood-up while slowly turning around, -Oh it’s you, she irritably replied, what do you want now, or did you bring some more sweet apples.
-No, not this time, I brought you something better, Suresh commented, -by the way your eyes are a bit red, are you OK? -Yes, I’m fine, Anu pouted, -I’ll just allergic to straw, so what did you bring me? -I have here enough money here for you to buy a rango for your bhaisi, was the reply as Suresh pulled the wad of rupees from his pocket, -so that they can make as many babies as they want. -But I told you before that I don’t want any charity from you or anyone else, she angrily answered, -so you can keep all your money, I don’t want it.
-But this isn’t charity, Suresh calmly explained, -think of it as a community service as it was everyone who gathered this money up, not just me, they didn’t do this for you but out of the interest of their own peace and quiet. So here take the money, and you had better buy a rango that makes your bhaisi happy, otherwise I’m going to be in trouble with the community, I might even have to pay everyone back the rupees they gave me!
-But why would you do this for me, Anu wondered while blushing slightly as she reluctantly took the wad of rupees, no one has ever done anything nice for me before? -I told you, Suresh shrugged, -everyone in the community helped out, not just me, besides you seem like a nice person who needed a bit of help, and because those depressed grunts and bellows your bhaisi was making were really irritating! At least those sweet apples have helped in the meanwhile, do you have any left, and would you like me to get you some more?
-No, that’s fine, I think she will be fine until tomorrow when I get a rango for her, Anu replied, but while you’re here would you like some tea, I was about to make some anyway. -Well, I suppose I could, before going home to make my dal bhat, Suresh answered, -so will you be able to get a male buffalo that quickly, do you know where you can get one already? -I mentioned before that I was saving up to buy a rango, she commented as she stepped inside her home to make the tea, -so of course I’ve been looking around and checking up on animals and their owners, though I’m sure just about any male would do for her.
-What will you do now with the money you were saving, Suresh inquired after a while, -or maybe you haven’t any plans for that yet? -No, not yet, but I’m thinking about it, she called from inside her hovel, -maybe I’ll fix-up this place a bit. -You could start by freshening up the paint job, Suresh half joked, -something as simple as that can make a huge difference, maybe even change those colours completely. -No, I like purple and white too much, Anu replied coming out with a tray holding two tea cups and a tea pot, -they’re my favourite colours, but I will definitely get a new umbrella as my old one is getting rather grubby and faded.
-What sort of work are you involved in, Anu then inquired to keep the conversation flowing, -it must pay fairly well for you to be able to cover most of the cost of a rango, and you must have because I know how cheap the people in this community are. -It doesn’t pay that well off, Suresh sadly replied, -it’s just a low ranking Government office job, our department is somehow attached to the Constitution Assembly, something to do with speeding the process up, but I don’t see much of a connection.
-What about you then, since it was his turn to ask, -what sort of part-time work have you been doing? -Oh, mostly typing business letters for various corporations, sometimes I do cleaning jobs as well, other times I do a bit of stitching work, anything to bring me a few extra rupees, and then there is the milk I get from Rita there. -Rita, is that what you call your bhaisi, Suresh wondered, -isn’t it more common for buffalo to be named after common flowers?
On they talked as they drank their tea, nor did they stop at only one cup, or at one pot either, indeed they even played a few games of bagh chal as they continued their most pleasant conversation until the chorus of frogs was in full swing and the first fireflies appeared in the fields of makai. -Oh, I had better get home and make my dinner, Suresh exclaimed as he reluctantly got up from Anu’s porch, -and you must have to make your dal bhat too. -It’s no trouble for me as I usually eat late anyway, Anu replied, -in fact I could always make extra and we could eat together?
For a few seconds Suresh debated in his mind as to which way he should answer that, before finally deciding on, -I would like that very much, but perhaps on another evening, if that’s OK with you? -Sure, that is fine with me, Anu shrugged, -maybe sometime in the new week?-That would be fine with me, Suresh cheerfully returned, -here, I’ll help you with the tea tray. -No, it’s alright she replied, -don’t come in as my house is a mess.
Nonetheless he came partially into her home as he handed the tray to her, he saw that it wasn’t too much of a mess, more cluttered than anything else (much like his office), yet as she was pushing him back out the door, something in the corner caught his eye. It was a greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella, or so he thought that was what he saw, after all it was only a brief glimpse, and his tired mind might have played tricks in the fading light. Of course, there was also the possibility, though highly unlikely, that Anu had a similar looking umbrella as did the rainy-day Rani, still as he was walking home he looked back at her house (and waved good-bye a second time), still maybe it was just an odd coincidence…
That night his dreams were especially odd, there was a multitude of Anu’s wearing red kamij with white flowers and white salwar pants with red stripes, each carrying a greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella, some of the Anu’s he could see their faces with her round rimmed glasses and hair up with a hair clip, the others hid their face behind the umbrella. In the same dream, there were countless rainy-day Rani’s, each dressed in the black stockings, short dark blue skirt and white blouse, all the Rani’s had their trade mark umbrella, but some of the Rani’s he could see their faces, which looked exactly like Anu’s.
Meanwhile Suresh was searching for the buffalo, calling out lali guras, buttercup, prickly pear and various other flower names, but the multiple Anu’s and rainy-day Rani kept getting in his way, grabbing him and clinging on. Not that he minded, as it felt kind of nice, however it was tough with the multitude of ramro keti fondling him in delightful ways to find the bhaisi, but then all the ramro keti demanded that he pick one of them, and only one! Yet he was finding it trying, even though he was fairly certain that all the woman were the same person, he was worried that if he only picked one girl, then all the others would be greatly disappointed.
The next morning at work Suresh was most agitated, if what he was thinking was correct then it didn’t matter which keti he might choose, but if he was mistaken and picked the wrong girl to be with… All he could do was wait until the afternoon rain, then when she passed by he would find out somehow, one way or another if he had made a right decision in the matter. Therefore, for the time being, he fidgeted and fretted the hours away as he tried to focus on his daily drudgery, but then the images from his dreams would come back to him.
-Bhayo? Bikash inquired later in the day when he had a chance. -Oh it came about ok, Suresh replied, -I collected the money and gave it to Anu, so now she can buy the rango. -Yet you don’t seem so happy about it, Bikash commented, -even though now you are free to pursue your monsoon maiden, or have you fallen more for your bhaisi beauty? -Oh, it’s probably nothing, Suresh shrugged, -I’m just a bit confused and uncertain about something, but hopefully this afternoon or this evening it will all be clear in my mind. -Ah, I think I understand, Bikash sagely nodded, -well good luck to you then.
Suresh had never experienced the hours moving so slowly before, like molasses in January during a freeze-up at Annapurna Base Camp, which was made all the worse by his boss constantly hovering about the office and the general locality. Still, he tried to concentrate with head bent down over the pages of agendas, timetables, and statistics he had to scrutinize, sorting through tangled stretches of red tape to untie a gorgonian knot of legal twaddle, all so that the employees would be aware of where exactly they must place their ink well (which were no longer used in any case) on their desk.
Suresh was under so much pressure and strain, that as soon as the first few drops of rain rattled on the tin roof, he jumped out of his chair and instinctly looked out the window. -It’s only three o’clock, Bikash quietly commented, -so she won’t be passing by yet, sit down and work a while longer, I’ll let you know when it’s time. So reluctantly Suresh sat back down and attempted to return to his job at hand, yet while only paying the bare minimum of attention to what he was doing.
Finally four o’clock arrived, and without Bikash telling him, Suresh instantly got up to take an anxious look out the window, his monsoon maiden wasn’t anywhere in sight, yet, but he could sense she was somewhere nearby. Sure enough, a minute later she came into view, stepping lightly despite the heavy rain, dressed this time in the baggy tartan green and black shorts and a loose white t-shirt, with blue rubber flip-flops on her feet, and of course the umbrella. Once again she was holding the umbrella in such a way, and at such an angle, that Suresh couldn’t see her face other than the bottom of her chin at most, but in a few moments he was hoping that would all change.
The question being, how could he go to her now while he was still at work, especially with the boss practically standing over him watching his every move, and in a few seconds she would be gone? But unless Suresh acted now he would never know for certain if his monsoon love was Anu or not, indeed she was almost halfway across his field of view, and she was too far away and the rain too loud for him to shout to her. All this tension was rattling his nerves as much as the rain was rattling on the tin roof, so much so that he could feel another panic attack coming on; indeed he was on the verge of leaping out the window.
-Suresh, I forgot to take my tea break today, Bikash then loudly remarked, so I’ll take my break with you, oh and that’s right, the office is out of tea at the moment, so run to the tea stall down the road and quickly get us two teas. At first Suresh only looked at his co-worker, until comprehension finally dawned on him, then with a broad grin he quickly ran out into the corridor. -Wait, Bikash then called out -don’t forget your umbrella.
Suresh thought that he had already lost sight of his rainy-day Rani, as he came out onto the rain pelted street, for look around as frantically as he might there was no greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella that he could see. But then a few metres ahead he saw her and the umbrella turning around the corner of a neighbouring building, so off he raced to catch-up with her, slipping and sliding on the wet walkway.
Suresh came barrowing around the corner his monsoon maiden had just disappeared behind, only to find she hadn’t travelled too much further, as she had stopped to look in the window of a clothing store. Therefore he almost ran into her, -Anu, he then clearly called out to her. The girl quickly turned to face him, while lifting her head and the edge of her umbrella, so that Suresh finally had a clear view of her full face and her long silky black hair in a long braid tied at the end with a blue ribbon.
-Oh, it’s you, Anu in surprise replied as she tried to see through the misty lenses of her glasses, -what do you want this time? –I have seen you almost every day for the last month, passing by the window of my office, Suresh then remarked as he gently grabbed hold of her shoulders, -and though I never once saw your face on any of those occasions I fell madly in love with you. Until now I thought that you were a different person Anu, but I’m glad that it was you and not someone else who was my monsoon love!
-What are you on about, Anu began, -and don’t be a crazy donkey… However, before she could finish, Suresh dropped his umbrella and gently pulled her to him while putting his arms around her, leaned over and kissed her on the mouth. At first Anu’s body went ridged, but soon began to relax, and so the edge of the greyish white and faded purple polka-dotted umbrella slowly lowered until it covered both their faces…