5 December 2015
The cool of the bungalow’s interior didn’t reflect the intensifying temperature building outside. The high Dutch colonial ceiling with its lazy fans slicing through the mid-morning air created a sanctuary from the tropical heat. The view through the main reception room’s shuttered doors across the deeply shaded veranda hinted at the approaching monsoon.
The cool environ of the garden. The lawns, bamboo grove and their shadows, normally an oasis from the heat, were now being replaced by an odd clouding and thickening of the air, which congealed around the ancient mango tree.
The sky above the plantation was darkening. The acres of slowly swaying coconut trees were stilled, their fronded crowns anticipating the arrival of the midday storm.
The yellows, reds and cornflower blue of the kingfisher and other abundant bird life, normally darting from paw paw’s to frangipani, were suddenly absent. Monitor lizards normally loping across the lawn retreated to the mystery of the surrounding jungle.
Suddenly a rumbling roared from one corner of the garden around to the next, the deafening thunder proclaiming the breaking of the monsoon.
The temperature fell, as did the first massive drops of rain.
Suddenly the sky was falling, the sound deafening on the bungalow’s terracotta roof. The rain coursing down the peaked roof of the main house, the white-washed pillared veranda now decorated with clear curtains, the water’s fabric flowing into the surrounding garden. Some mischievous rivulets found a path through missing roof tiles, forming treacherous and invisible pools on the surface of the white highly polished concrete veranda floor.
It had arrived. Sri Lanka’s South West Monsoon.
The sloping manicured lawn was almost invisible under sheets of water. New tributaries were being created over the sodden red earth, sweeping into the plantation. Its workers, relieved of their duty, collected machetes, retied their sarongs, and retreated to their nearby villages.
The garden’s branches were touching the ground, weighed down by the monsoon’s downfall. Speech was redundant, the volume of the rain carrying away any words.
Then, just as suddenly as the monsoon steamed through the plantation, hiding the bungalow’s colourful garden in a roar of thunder and a blanket of water, it rolled through the jungle to its next station further down the island nation.