Love begins in the rain

On the porch a lamp hung heavy and dripping. It cast a bright light upon my bare feet and the floor tiles, which were cooled, polished and slickened by the rain water. Beyond the porch the world was dark; a speck of light here and there from a neighbor’s house, and sometimes a motorbike shooting past on the road across the rice fields. Perhaps the riders should go slower, I thought. If not, they might miss the beauty of midnight.

The joy was in the frogs; you knew it by their trill. The moon was absent, but they called for its memory. Their alto voices filled the spaces between the rain patter–patt patt patt–against the plastic monsoon tarp draping the roof. The frogs were brilliant in India. You could stand on an empty road at night with a field to the left and to the right and close your eyes, and the music of the frogs would surround you and move your heart into the sky.

There were no fireflies this night, and yet I hoped at least one was keeping the woman company as she slept over there, across the field where I could not see. I could not see, but I could imagine.

You can’t see much of her; she’s curled up beneath bed covers, so only her hair the color of coal gives her away. But closer, and there is a rise of breath, warm and soft exhales, an air that moves throughout her being and yet doesn’t seem to ever be inside or outside. She breathes like a cloud. Yes, she breathes like a cloud.

Above her floats a mosquito net, twisted and tied and hung from the ceiling, swaying and sashaying in the fan gusts. In the dark room, with the wind blowing strong against the stone rough walls and through the open shutters, and the sound of water everywhere, there is a strong sense of the sea, and suddenly the mosquito net is a giant jellyfish drifting in deep moonlit waters. So she drifts along upon the tide, and if there is a firefly (as I so dearly wish) then it sparkles upon the ceiling like a star caught in the waves.

In this ocean of my imagining she is adored. Sea creatures, swimming past, stop for a moment and wonder at her, “Who is this soul, sleeping in our water?” Maybe some judge her, because she is doing what they think she should not, doing what secretly they want to do. They shake their scales and continue on, missing the moment. But others, perhaps the most wise fishes, the ones with long whiskers and rough fins, they look at her and their eyes shine. Because they know where real beauty comes from, and they know such things as courage and truth. They float beside her for a while, basking in her energy, and the water ripples with the strength of her heartbeat. Then the wise fishes continue on, back home to their little caves of coral where their loved ones say hello, where a story is told to the baby fishes about a beautiful cloud found sleeping on the seabed.

This is where I went that night, there on the porch with the frogs and the rain. Certainly I was in love–with the woman, with India, with the unknown corners ahead. I had been stale and broken, but now existence had shaken me into sweetness and renewal. My heart reeled in the contrasts of my life. I was utterly lost, yet had never felt so alive. Doom had suddenly become breathtaking.

The next morning, I drank cortadas with Blue at Cafe Artjuna, outdoors in the bamboo chairs and glass tables beneath the high blue tarps, predicting oncoming storms by the wind gusts and stoking Mir (the German magician) into his passionate speeches. I was silent, more than usual, lost in reverie and gazing up into the great Banyan tree. Blue suddenly turned and saw. Laughing, he said, “True love is born in the rain.”

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