Monday, June 22, 2009

The longest day

So today was the longest day of the year and Father's Day at the same time. I did talk to my Dad at morning time India but didn't quite wish him a Happy Father's Day. Like most other dads, he's not really a fan of such moments of overt sentimentality. I am quite sure that even though both Mother's Day and Father's Day are marketing gimmicks by greeting card companies, Mother's Day is much bigger business for Hallmark than Father's. Moms are much more likely to be thrilled at being the focus of such sappy emotions. The few Father's Day cards that do sell must be daughters buying cards for their Daddy dearests. Fathers and sons share a very covert form of male bonding not to be embarassingly proclaimed by lovey dovey cards or flowers. Instead I went ahead and did something which my father was likely to do. On the most prolonged evening of the year, I went for a walk in the rain.

21st June also marks the official beginning of summer in the US but there were no indicators of that here in Massachusetts. It was a damp 17 degree centigrade all day long with the accompaniment of the lightest of light drizzles, more spray than rain. I decided to wish the sun goodbye on his most stretched out work-day for this entire year and he lingered around till nearly 9:10 PM before finally turning out his lights on this part of the world. The rain came down silently, the notes of water rushing through the drains and dripping off leaves dominating the soundscape. The occasional car grabbed the spotlight for a few seconds splashing noisily through the puddles before the subtler noises returned to claim what was theirs to begin with.

People don't walk in this town and anyone who does gets the most curious glances as he were some crack dealer. I used to notice the attention being showered on me, the lone walker but have thankfully have developed a healthy apathy to it. Lights were coming on in the streets and the little pools of water in the potholes of the road sparkled with life, the only life it seemed there was in these parts. Back home in India, a rainy evening would mean the noisiest of frog choruses and the chiming of temple bells or the muezzin singing the 'azaan'. Here, it meant even more of a deathly calm than a normal day if such a thing were possible. Nonetheless, I walked through the silence deliberately crunching my shoes on the gravel of the sidewalks in a futile attempt to remind myself that I was in a street lined on both sides with wonderfully kept houses. No activity at all on those impeccable porches or the neatly mown lawns, no life, no none at all. Even the pet dogs, those normally noisy protectors of their home turf let trespassers like me jaunt by. Folks in the USA apparently don't like the rain and neither do their dogs.

I ventured onto Main Street and watched as a cop car blazed by siren blaring followed closely by a fire engine lights flashing. This rainy evening certainly wasn't turning out to be a good one for someone out there. The shops were already all closed, today being a Sunday with the well dressed mannequins inside the glass displays still patiently putting up with the permanent spotlights cast on them. Taunton is an old town (Established 1639) and though the shops in downtown don't look even a quarter of how old they should look, there is a languid old timer feel to it. Portuguese names abound in the names of the displayed shops as the town has a large number of Portuguese immigrants. Law firms, rental agencies, barber shops: all shuttered waiting for another busy (hopefully) week to begin. There were no lights inside the musical instruments shop but with the aid of the last few rays of the sun and the insufficient streetlights I could make out the outlines of guitars and violins, some beaten old wrecks and some flashily new, all equally capable of inspiring joy or feeding despair. As the light faded for the last time this year, before the days become shorter again starting tomorrow peaking into a brutal and bare winter, I ran my fingers through my rain dampened hair and walked on nursing aggravatingly conflicting opinions on the necessity of change.

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