Book Excerpts: I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale by Khushwant Singh

The monsoon has arrived! It fell upon the city without warning on the night of June 1, 2013, complete with lightning veins, thunder roll and a rush of drops that soon settled down to play a rhythm on all things that interrupted its airborne tryst. 

As usual, the meteorologists got it wrong – the monsoon has commenced its journey two days before the predicted date. To err is human, and in matters of nature, the scientists and experts are to be forgiven. For as much is claimed to be known about nature and atmosphere, human beings must concede that nature’s mysteries shall always remain and maintain their allure. 
Anyway, I have been reading Khushwant Singh’s remarkable 1959 novel I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale and it is a happy coincidence that the writer starts ‘Chapter IV’ with an eloquent five-page detailing on this wet, gray season: 
To know India and her peoples, one has to know the monsoon. It is not enough to read about it in books, or see it on the cinema screen, or hear someone talk about it. It has to be a personal experience because nothing short of living through it can fully convey all it means to a people for whom it is not only the source of life, but also their most exciting impact with nature. What the four seasons of the year mean to the European, the one season of the monsoon means to the Indian. It is preceded by desolation; it brings with it hopes of spring; it has the fullness of summer and the fulfillment of autumn all in one. 

(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

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