Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXI No. 15, November 16-30, 2021

Element-Tary, Dear Chennai

by Ranjitha Ashok

Here we are.

Back again in the same situation, with hardly any lessons learnt.

It never fails.

Every year.

Flooded roads, desperate citizens carrying their old, their young, on their shoulders while wading knee deep through the filthiest versions of myself imaginable. People getting marooned on roof tops, or in higher-up apartments, watching the skies forlornly, hoping the clouds will magically change direction and go bother someone else.

You know, you guys as a race are something else.

Don’t you ever get tired of posting the same pictures? Writing the same doomsday headlines? Making the same dire predictions?

And guess who gets the dirty looks?

Me – that’s who.

Enough already with all the under-the-breath mutterings, okay?

I, like my siblings, Earth, Air, Space, and Fire, am only following my true nature.

Being Me – with a capital M.

Guys, you know I arrive with my army around this time of the year. (If I don’t, I get attacked for that too. Make up your minds, people!)

Why can’t you get prepared when my friend, the Sun, is doing his bit?

And that doesn’t mean just stocking up on potatoes, onions and all those things you feel are so indispensable.

Yes, I’m talking to you there, with what looks like a year’s supply of toothpaste.


I know what your counter argument will be – that you dig a lot of storm water drains.

Good for you, but I’ve noticed a touch of aberration here. Like if the work is expected to take three months, then make full use of those three months. Don’t stop after two, draw a self-congratulatory breath, and rather naively hope the remaining weeks will somehow take care of themselves.

How? You do know that those stories of elves magically completing your work at night are only for very small children, right?

As for that regrettable habit of happily skipping over crucial details? Like gradients? If you understand me, you’ll know how to deal with me. So, yes, gradients, but it doesn’t end there – they have to synchronise with other fellow gradients, no?


Is common sense on a holiday here?

In any case, what’s the point of having all these drains if garbage and debris are allowed to pile up in them?
And how is any of this my fault?

Above everything else, you repeatedly choose to ignore a very major truth – it is in my nature to fill lakes, ponds and tanks. My memory goes back to the Beginning and is far more ancient than anything you can ever imagine. I have gone to the same places now for centuries. If you insist on building your dwellings in areas that have always belonged to me, what do you think will happen?

(Maybe that’s it – ‘think’ is the wrong word here. Is ‘greed’ better?)

Come this time of year, I go where I have always gone.

And there’s utter panic; you guys lose your homes, your belongings, put your lives in danger, and find yourselves plying boats on roads you drove on just yesterday – only now you can ignore traffic lights with even more impunity.
Is this annual chaos really necessary?

A little bit of respect and consideration for me and my siblings and we’ll all do just fine.

Come on – can’t be that hard. You guys are supposed to be the crème de la crème of creation. You have all these karmic theories of how being born human is such a great reward for past good deeds. Then why mess up a given opportunity by sheer…well…you know what I mean.

So – get your act together.

A little forethought, a little trouble taken, and you’ll stay dry, Chennai.

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