the feeling of freedom in the rain
I have many fond memories from my childhood, but one that always stands out is when I was 12 during the monsoon season1.
My friend and I loved to spend time in the rice fields near our homes, catching small fish in the flooded paddies. Back then, the fields were still plentiful in our area before roads were built over the top. My parents didn't approve of us playing outdoors in the heavy rains, but my friend and I found creative ways to sneak out anyway.
The monsoons brought a sense of freedom and excitement as we explored the magical landscape that emerged each season.
One afternoon, during a particularly thick downpour, we spotted something moving along the water's edge. Using towels to protect our hands, we carefully lifted out a small turtle paddling through the flooded grasses. Fascinated by its armored shell and stout little legs, we returned our new friend to show my friend's parents. Knowing my parents would scold me for coming home soaked, we kept the turtle at his place for a little while.
For two days, we cared for the turtle as best we could with meager supplies. But we realized keeping that small animal confined without its natural habitat wasn't fair. On the third day, again under shelter of the heavy rainfall, we returned to the rice field. Releasing the turtle back where we found it and watching its shell disappear into the murky water was pure joy.
Even if I got in trouble afterward, being outside, feeling the rain on my skin, and helping that little turtle was worth it. Though the rice fields have long since been paved over2, that special moment has always stayed with me - the heavy rainfall, the sense of childhood freedom, and the simple act of returning a creature to its natural home.
Kerala is mostly subject to the humid tropical wet climate experienced by most of Earth's rainforests. It averages some 120–140 rainy days per year. In summer, most of Kerala is prone to gale-force winds, storm surges, and torrential downpours accompanying dangerous cyclones off the Indian Ocean.↩
Reckless reclamation or conversion of paddy fields and wetlands has become a regular activity in Kerala. Over the last few decades, Kerala has legally lost hectares of wetlands and paddy fields in the name of industry, infrastructure development and housing.↩