I've come back from my Zumba class in the morning and am about to have breakfast. Vijay's away this weekend and the day stretches out ahead. I look outside and note that it's started to rain, and hard at that.
'Anyone for a walk?' I call out on a whim.
'Yes, yes.' says my daughter Peanut, ever ready for fun.
'I'm coming, wait for me.' seven year old Papad can clearly hardly believe what he's hearing.
'Mommmm' Pickle wails from the bathroom. 'I'm doing poo-poo.'
I reassure him that he can join us after his poo-poo and head out with Peanut. We step out into the rain, and I suddenly notice that she's going to be taller than me in just a couple of years - she's right up to my ear! The rain soaks us almost immediately, but it's not a cold day, really.
'Shall I bring an umbrella?' Peanut isn't used to this.
'What would the point be then?' I ask.
We walk a few steps more and then I wonder out loud where Papad is. I turn and there he is, running up in his crocs, big grin on his face. Peanut sees a small stream already created by the pelting rain near the pavement and exclaims 'A boat! I need to make a paper boat.'
'Huh?' I say. 'Come on, you're already out in the rain, it's okay...'
'No, Mom.' She says with a sense of urgency. 'I've never done that! I need to make a paper boat and see it float in these waters.'
I realize it is a reasonable ambition and so tell her to hurry home then. She shoots off and Papad and I head to the park. In a matter of seconds, Pickle arrives, having had the good sense to bring with him his football. The twins throw away their crocs and start to play - I marvel how they can kick so hard in the rain, barefoot but they are in the seventh heaven, laughing and kicking and running and shouting. I take off my slippers - my shirt which used to be light green is now dark green and clinging to my skin, and I realize it is a little cold after all. But the feel of the wet grass under my feet is still warm and overall it's ludicrous and yet wonderful to be standing there in the rain watching the boys play football. Papad slips and falls and for a moment I'm worried, but he's up and laughing again and I realize that there's so much water around that he's not going to hurt himself. He realizes it too and so does his twin, because soon they are both sliding to the kick the ball, reminding me of baseball players sliding into base. Peanut reappears with a really large paper boat which we put into a small stream running alongside the park. It floats for about two seconds before toppling over, and despite our valiant attempts to right it, it is soaked and ruined. It doesn't seem to bother her though, she seems satisfied with that two seconds and she grins up at me brightly.
The rain falls even harder and we show no signs of going home. My daughter, always an observant kid, remarks. 'Mom, we're a really weird family.'
'What?' I exclaim. 'Just because your father is crazy about farming and away this weekend again doing it, and your mother doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain?'
'Kinda.' She smiles and then kicks hard at a puddle of water so that my track pants get even muddier. 'Hah! Soaked ya.'
We are the only ones in the Central park, lined with buildings of our colony. I know that at least some people are watching, probably with a mixture of disapproval and amusement. Football isn't really allowed in this park and here is this crazy mother not telling her kids off. But there's no one else around, and it's not going to hurt anyone or anything, so I say nothing to the twins, who now have anyway decided to abandon the ball and pursue sliding in the grass as a full time career option. Pickle's pants are torn already, but I note that his form is improving. They both break into a run with identical determined expressions on their faces and twist slightly as they reach muddy waters and slide through with grace and skill. They're making it look easy, but I know it's not.
'Can you do that?' I ask my usually well-behaved daughter. She shakes her head.
'I want to try.' I surprise myself.
'Okay.' She's malleable. 'Come on then.'
She leads the way and I follow more uncertainly. We reach the slidey-place but both of us are unable to slide with our knees half-bent the way that Pickle-Papad do and wind up just clumsily sitting on our bums. We give it another go and I balk at the last minute and stumble but stay upright, while Peanut manages the slide. Pickle and Papad shout their expert advice on how to do it, contradicting each other as usual and we keep at it until finally I am able to realize that the only thing holding me back is the fear that I'm now too old for this and that I could end up injuring my knees or my back or something - I stop thinking and just run deeper into the puddle and of course I slip, my legs slide out under me and I land in the muddy puddle, and lie sprawled there, it raining on my face, and I feel incredibly triumphant. I run up and do it again with the children, and that's when I notice that two more kids have appeared in the park.
'Hey, Kavya, Hey Leela.' I say to the little princesss, both of whom have mischief on their faces all the time and consequently are among my favourites in the colony. 'How come your parents allowed you to come?'
'Parents?' Kavya rolls her eyes. 'I didn't tell my DAD. I just came!'
Leela affirms that she used the same strategy and soon the two of them are also playing the sliding game with us. Two more kids then land up, and I note with some amusement that the brother-sister combination seem to be in their pajamas. A couple of adults land up too, including one lady who I often talk to in the pool but whose name I haven't actually learned all these years.
'It takes only one crazy person.' She sings out to me in greeting. 'And then you see, the rest land up.'
'Ha ha.' I grin at her. 'Well, it's wonderful out here today, I don't know why more people don't come out in the rain.'
'I know!' She agrees. 'We were in the pool and we continued to swim when it was raining. Saw you and decided to come this way. It's beautiful, isn't it?'
I converse with her, possibly one of the few times outside the pool, but both of us still as wet as if we were in 5.5 feet of water. I finally work up the courage to ask her name and learn that it is Payal, and that she has a home in the hills with an Apple Orchard where she hopes to retire soon and that she is a pre-primary school teacher who is currently learning about learning disabilities and that she is taking tuitions for the economically disadvantaged children in our colony. I marvel at her spirit and her friendly nature and her choice of career and everything about her and say, with feeling. 'Why can't there be more people like you in this world?' She just laughs good-naturedly and we turn to talking about the kids and how important it is for them to get outside and play like this.
The twins come running up to me with a request to be spun around. I hoist up Pickle by the arms and spin round and round and round - it's as if he's flying, his legs close to the ground and he deliberately drops his foot so as to make a circle of splashing water around us, which fascinates the other kids and of course all of them now want a turn. I go dizzy doing it, but the past is when Papad begs for me to stop spinning him because 'My pant is falling and I forgot to wear Chaddi.' The other kids double up laughing at this, and we carry on, but I finally have to refuse when they come back for third turns, because by now I've done about ten of these and my head is spinning. They whine for a moment but I'm firm and they recover and start spinning each other, with Peanut and the other girls taking turns to spin Pickle and Papad around. They also then carry each other all over the park, and the rain has turned to a slight drizzle but no one's even noticed because they're all just having too much fun, and there I am watching them in contented silence.
I know that I couldn't have brought my phone out into the rain and clicked pictures, but it's imprinted in my mind - Peanut, tall and skinny, hair flattened by the rain, dripping wet in a blue shirt and green pants above her knees. Pickle and Papad in their black shirts, with dirty torn pants clowning around, for once happy with Peanut's friends picking them up at their will to toss them about the wet, completely safe bed created by the rain-fed grass.
And just so I don't forget, I make sure I write it all down here.
Because how often do we let go of adulting enough to really enjoy the simple things in life? Like the pelting rain, greenery and mud and the happy, squealing, innocent laughter of delighted kids?
So, yes, indeed. Let it rain.