” Whats that floating there Dada?” Binni pointed at the frigid form of a dead cat floating along the brook which was once called Victoria street. Ajay hesitated before answering “uh… it’s a cat, it’s taking a swim”. Binni giggled, “what a stupid creature! who takes a swim on the road?” asking with an innocence only children can perfect. Ajay sighed but did not answer back, there were far more interesting things to think about than Binni’s questions. Both of them from the verandah of their home observed the street in front. Maganpur like many cities in West Bengal was originally built by Britishers who never knew the true wrath of an Indian Monsoon and hence, whenever the rains came and Mother Hoogly saw it fit to expand her banks, The misplanned City turned into the Venice of Bengal, a very dirty and inconvenient Venice.

As the two children observed the scene in front of them, The rains pummelled down mercilessly. On the street, which was now submerged in knee deep rainwater, the denizens of the city tried to go through their day to day life. The children could see the Bengali Babus trying to wade their way through the crowded waterways with their stereotypical huge black umbrellas being used more like sticks to prod their way through the crowd rather than for protection against rain. The roadside vendors tried desperately to save their goods from being spoilt by the rain while children big and small were launching small fleets of paper boats in all directions. The feline denizens were not much behind, dogs with their pups made small caravans wading through the waters to find a spot of dry land while the cats made the rooftops their kingdom, travelling across it with the grace and snobbishness only fit for kings. Once in a while, one could see small school fish making their way through the flooded streets.

The children took everything in with their eyes wide with wonder, for they knew, like all good things this time will also come to an end. The rain will stop as suddenly as it started and the river would recede for another year, life in Maganpur would pick up its monotonous pace again. This city was like any other city on the Indian subcontinent but the rains along with floods brought a magical change to it and its denizens. The Children gazed ahead trying to capture every precious and fleeting moment they could with their sparkling eyes and innocent minds for they would be deprived of such a spectacle for another year. “Binni, Ajay! come quick, lunch is ready ” Amma shouted. “Coming Amma,” Ajay said, shuffling to his feet, giving a final longing gaze to the scene ahead before he went inside. The children would have to wait, they would have to wait a long time before the dormant Hoogly would wake up and show its true form to them again.



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