July. August. Up north, where I emotionally belong to, these are the monsoon months. The month of Shraavana. In Hindi, saawan ka mahinaa.
This is the time of the year when the Ganga is usually swollen and its waters muddy. This is the time when the Ganga, which otherwise flows serenely and nourishes the millions settled on its plains, can assume a devastating form.
The evidence of the two different moods of the Ganga lies in the yoga-cum-puja room of my Chennai home. Two white translucent cans are sitting there, both containing water from the Ganga. One of them has water that I had collected during a boat ride in Banaras in November 2007, when I had gone there to collect material for Chai, Chai. The water in it is still crystal clear.
The other contains water I had collected, also during a boat ride in Banaras, in August 2009, when I was there to cremate my mother. A thick layer of sediment can be seen at the bottom of this can. How can I ever forget 29 August 2009: I stood there under an overcast sky, in the furnace-like heat generated by the over a dozen burning pyres, watching the Ganga -- swollen but sluggish.
Monsoon seems to have hit the Ganga Mail too. The more swollen the mind with thoughts, the muddier the thought process, and you can't see what exactly is there at the bottom of the mind that needs to be expressed.
The less the number of thoughts, the simpler and more effective the thought process. People living in the hills are simple people, and they lead a simple life. That's where the Ganga gurgles down with great force, and the water so cold and clear that you can often see what's at the bottom. It flows like a good piece of writing.
It's time to pay a visit to the hills; to return to simpler times.