The non-arrival of the monsoon sets off a ritual lamentation: stylized, vehement, always the same, a modern Indian marsiya. The fault lies not in the defaulting monsoon, but in us, for nationalizing rain clouds and then affecting shock when they behave like public sector undertakings. Meteorologists believe in a travelling cloud called the monsoon which waters the whole country. This is not an adult or plausible belief, but like the IAS probationer’s Bharat Darshan, it is a valuable fiction which helps us believe in the idea of India.
The story of this travelling rain cloud was first written in the 1800s which is appropriate because that century produced the world’s most durable realist fictions, such as War and Peace and the Census of India. The monsoon is a colonial story—we Indians simply inherited it during the transfer of power and harnessed it to the republican cause.
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