Chepstow

Monsoon

THE MONSOON by Barbara Girardet

Heavily shrouded in the white heat of the afternoon sun, she lay flat on her back on the cold stone floor of the verandah, the dog beside her.

The garden lay dessicated and dreary. The leaves drooped drily from the trees, the thirsty flowers hung their sad heads and the lawn was baked brown and bald. No birds sang, no insects buzzed. The harsh caw of a lone crow from deep in the forest rent the thick still silence and died away. The whole world was gripped in a coma of near death.

The dog heard it first. His ears pricked and he gave a low rumbling growl.

She heard it. A sound from the far distant bay, beyond the delta, beyond the forest, beyond the sluggish, soupy waters of the river, beyond the village and beyond the lake.

A thousand drummers drumming.

An imperceptible sigh whispered over the garden and was gone.

Suddenly, completely unexpectedly a crack of thunder, a harbinger, made her sit bolt upright. The dog huddled closer.

A swirling angry vortex of dense, dark cloud, a black hole of pure energy laden with moisture, its edges whipped by fearsome cyclonic winds, whirled furiously off the bay across the delta and into the forest, slashing, crashing, destroying everything in its path. Tearing limbs off the trees, snatching at the birds and dashing them to the ground, angrily surging over the river, churning its waters into muddy tsunamis, bursting its banks, smashing the dingies together like empty nutshells, ripping the thatch off the fishermen’s huts, exposing them to the full force of its power and fury. Racing across the lake, smacking at its surface, boiling it into cauldrons of flying foam and spume. Hurtling to the house, rattling the windows, banging the shutters, hurling the coconuts through the air shattering them against the walls. A cacophony of noise and violence and infernal rage.

Darkness fell like night, a dark veil over the face of the earth as the heavy black cloud circled overhead, slowly, ominously, eclipsing the light of the sun.

A flash so sudden, so bright it seared her retinas, a blinding second of burning hot, pure white. The jagged lightening split through the cloud and forked into the lake, its surface shuddering, electrically charged, shimmering like polished steel.

She saw a silver snake, liquid mercury, speeding, flowing into the cover of the undergrowth. Gone before fear could register.
Total Silence. Complete suspension. The wind died away. An airless vacuum. The earth stood still in a small moment of dark brooding peace.

An almighty crash, an atomic blast as the thunder exploded and roared overhead. The ground trembling in the shock wave of sound surging across it, shuddering into her body, banging her heart hard up against her ribs, throbbing in her throat, her mouth dry, her nostrils filled with hot air smelling of electricity and fear.

The dog whimpered and dug his head further into her embrace. They sat together under the raging storm caught in a cage of exquisite fright and wonder. A symphony of terrible beauty.

The flickers of lightning slowly grew further apart and the rolls of thunder quieter. She watched as the cyclone chased along its path, following the course of the river deeper inland, the sight and sound of its rage fading.

A soft hissing rose from the lake as the rain started to fall, gently, soothingly at first, then in fat heavy drops the size of golf balls, exploding onto the surface of the lake, transforming it into a frenzy of a thousand bubbling, erupting craters.

A strong smell of damp earthiness and the garden became a deluge before her eyes, drenched in the unrelenting rain. The road became a river and the ditch a raging torrent.

Thumping down onto the roof ,the rain ran off it in a roaring waterfall, overflowing the gutters, rushing into the downpipes, wrenching them loose from the house.

She stood up and tore off her clothes. Accompanied by the dog, she ran into the garden, dancing, jumping in exhileration, opening her upturned mouth to fill it with the warm life-giving rain, rolling over and over in the sticky, muddy mess that was once a lawn.

The monsoon had broken.