The birth of ‘monsoon’

With teary eyes, she caressed her son’s face. He had grown stubble and had grown into a handsome Arab. Though she was happy at the way he had turned out, she was sad that she had to part with him. He had to go into the Arabian Sea to be a sailor like his father.

“Does he have to go with you already?” she asked her husband.

“The winds are waiting to blow. The mausim is here,” he declared.

She knew that she couldn’t stop them now. The calculations were made. The south-west winds would blow over the sea towards India, steering the ship along. For centuries, the Arabs had mastered the course of the winds and would sail with it to the Malabar shore.

The young boy had grown up listening to the stories of the land of spices. As he looked towards the endless sea, he felt that his nostrils were filled with the strong aroma of the land. After a couple of months on sea they hit the lush green coast, lined with heavily laden coconut palms and mango trees. No doubt, the coast sustained much more life than the deserts of Arabia. Still, there was something missing. It was not as glorious as the India in the young man’s dreams. The earth was parched, the leaves were covered with dust and the young man was perspiring. As they dropped the anchor, a dusky man rushed towards the ship screaming, “Welcome. You have come with the winds. The rains will be here any minute.”

The next morning, the young Arab looked up at the sky to see the sun, but all he could see was dark clouds. The sea too had turned grey and the waves roared. The winds swept the sand on the beach and on to the Arab’s face. He pressed his eyes shut. Cool water droplets kissed his face and he slowly opened his eyes to greet the first showers of rain. The skies opened and poured the entire night.

The next day when the Arab stepped out, he felt he was in an entirely new world. The earth was carpeted green. It was as if seeds were sleeping under the soil, to be touched by the rain and woken up. Now, they had sprightingly sprung out of the earth. The trees looked like young maidens fresh after a bath, peeping out of their doors with strings of jasmine in their hair. The earth gave out an intoxicating smell, much superior even to the most expensive Arabian attar. The scene was much more beautiful than the India of the Arab’s fantasies.

“This is the season. This is mausim,” he screamed.

Hundreds of years later, an old Englishman sipped tea in his well manicured lawn in India. As he saw the cloudy sky reminding him of his home in England, he wondered at how the earth had transformed overnight.

“What is this?” he asked his gardener.

The gardener sitting crouched with his hands in the soil, smiled and replied, “Sahed, mausim is here.”

“Mau… Mau…. Monsoon. Monsoon is here!” exclaimed the Englishman.

Perhaps, that’s the way the word monsoon was born.


4 responses to this post.

  1. That’s a sweet story, hilarious too. We have similar tales on the naming of tapioca and a few other things too…


  2. Posted by Chandni Bhagchandani on September 7, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Loved the description..:)


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