A Short Monsoon Diary


A Short Monsoon Diary

By Ruskin Bond


                                      A Short Monsoon Diary Introduction

A Short Monsoon Diary depicts Ruskin Bond's diary, which he wrote and maintained. A diary is a written record of personal experiences over a long period of time. Ruskin Bond wrote in his diary about nature's silent miracles as the mountains received monsoon showers. Mussoorie's monsoon season begins around the last week of June and lasts until the end of August. Cold rains are welcomed from October until March, when the last dark cloud clears the sky for the rainbow after it hails.

A Short Monsoon Diary Summary

The lesson takes us through Ruskin Bond's diary, and the first day discussed is June 24, when the monsoon season begins. He talks about how the mist muffles the birdsong and obscures the hills, making everything invisible. By June 25, humidity has emerges as they begin to receive early monsoon rain. The first cobra lily emerges from the ferns. In one sentence, the author describes the hill station and valley as "a paradise that might have been."
The rains also bring a few seasonal visitors, such as leopards, leeches, scarlet minivets, and drongos. The rain has provided plenty of food for the insect-eating birds. On August 2, he mentions how the rain continued all night. The springing leaks from the tin roof made him feel wet while actually keeping him dry. Mussoorie had been receiving showers for eight to nine days straight by the twelfth of August. They were stuck with nowhere to go. One could only pace around the room or look out the window.
The lush monsoon growth peaked on the last day of August. The reddening of the lily cobra seeds indicated that the rains were about to end and that the ferns would soon turn yellow. With October comes the winter rain, which brings snow to higher altitudes. Late March marks the end of the winter season, when the hill station experiences the darkest clouds, leading to the formation of a rainbow after it has rained heavily, leaving the sky clear.
           A Short Monsoon Diary Lesson Explanation

June 24

The first day of monsoon mist. And it’s strange how all the birds fall silent as the mist comes climbing up the hill. Perhaps that’s what makes the mist so melancholy; not only does it conceal the hills, it blankets them in silence too. Only an hour ago the trees were ringing with birdsong. And now the forest is deathly still as though it were midnight. Through the mist Bijju is calling to his sister. I can hear him running about on the hillside but I cannot see him.

  • Mist (noun)- a cloud of tiny water droplets suspended in the atmosphere at or near the earth’s surface that limits visibility (to a lesser extent than fog; strictly, with visibility remaining above 1 km)
  • Mist (verb)- cover or become covered with mist
  • Melancholy- very sad (the mist is called melancholy because it makes people feel melancholy)
  • Conceal- not allow to be seen; hide
  • Blankets- covers

The lesson takes us through Ruskin Bond's diary, and the first day discussed is June 24, when the monsoon season begins. The mist first appeared on June 24, as stated in the text. The writer describes how all the birds fell silent as a cloud of tiny water droplets climbed up the hill as "strange." He offers two explanations for why the mist is called "melancholy." First, it conceals the view of the mountains. Second, it silences the birds, bringing sadness with it. Only an hour before the mist appeared, he writes, the trees could be heard ringing with the chirping of the birds (birdsong), but now it was so still and silent that he called the forest "deathly" because it felt like it was almost midnight. The writer could hear Bijju calling out for his sister but couldn't see him because of the mist. He could anticipate that Bijju was running around on the hillside.

June 25

Some genuine early monsoon rain, warm and humid, and not that cold high-altitude stuff we’ve been having all year. The plants seem to know it too, and the first cobra lily rears its head from the ferns as I walk up to the bank and post office. The mist affords a certain privacy. A school boy asked me to describe the hill station and valley in one sentence, and all I could say was: “A paradise that might have been.”

  • Cobra lily- common name of several plants
  • Rears- grow or cultivate (plants)
  • Ferns- a flowerless plant with feathery green leaves

On June 25, that year, the hills witnessed some early monsoon rain, which brought with it warmth and humidity. It differs from the year-round showers that cool the environment at such high altitude. The plants knew that the monsoon had arrived when the first cobra lily of the season plunged its head among the ferns as the writer walked to the bank and post-office. When a schoolboy asked, the author described the hill station and valley as "a paradise that might have been." It means that the hill station and valley must feel heavenly during the monsoon season, which is why it has been regarded as a "paradise."

June 27

The rains have heralded the arrival of some seasonal visitors—a leopard, and several thousand leeches. Yesterday afternoon the leopard lifted a dog from near the servants’ quarter below the school. In the evening it attacked one of Bijju’s cows but fled at the approach of Bijju’s mother, who came screaming imprecations. 
As for the leeches, I shall soon get used to a little bloodletting every day. Other new arrivals are the scarlet minivets (the females are yellow), flitting silently among the leaves like brilliant jewels. No matter how leafy the trees, these brightly coloured birds cannot conceal themselves, although, by remaining absolutely silent, they sometimes contrive to go unnoticed. Along come a pair of drongos, unnecessarily aggressive, chasing the minivets away.

  • Heralded- announced or brought the news of
  • Imprecations- curses
  • Leeches- an aquatic or terrestrial annelid worm with suckers at both ends. Many species are bloodsucking parasites
  • Bloodletting- losing blood (decades ago, leeches were used to remove blood from a patient’s body)
  • Scarlet minivets- bright red bird like a cuckoo
  • Flitting- move swiftly and lightly
  • Contrive- manage to do something
  • Drongos- a song bird with a stout bill

The rain brought news of the arrival of a few unexpected visitors, such as the leopard and thousands of leeches. The leopard had picked up a dog from near the servants' quarter, which was beneath the school, the past afternoon. Furthermore, it ambushed one of Bijju's cows in the evening but fled when Bijju's mother came cursing. The writer, on the other hand, says that he must get used to losing a little blood to the leeches every day. He mentions a few other names that came with the rain, such as scarlet minivets, which are bright red birds that look similar to cuckoos however their female-counterparts are yellow in colour. They move quickly and lightly among the leaves, gives the appearance of brilliant jewels all around them. These birds are so brightly coloured that it is difficult for them to hide, regardless of how leafy the tree is. However, they can sometimes go unnoticed by remaining completely silent. Drongos, a bird species with an unnecessarily aggressive nature, also appears. These minivets are chased away.

A treecreeper moves rapidly up the trunk of the oak tree, snapping up insects all the way. Now that the rains are here, there is no dearth of food for the insectivorous birds.

  • Creeper- any plant that grows along the ground, around another plant, or up a wall by means of extending stems or branches
  • Snapping up- to take someone or something quickly or eagerly
  • Dearth- a scarcity or lack of something
  • Insectivorous- (of an animal) feeding on insects, worms and other invertebrates

During this time, a tree creeper climbs up the oak tree's trunk, carrying insects with it. The rainy season ensures that insect-eating birds have plenty of food.

August 2

All night the rain has been drumming on the corrugated tin roof. There has been no storm, no thunder, just the steady swish of a tropical downpour. It helps me to lie awake; at the same time, it doesn’t keep me from sleeping.

  • Drumming- falling noisily
  • Corrugated- (of a material or surface) shaped into a series of parallel ridges and grooves so as to give added rigidity and strength
  • Swish- move with a hissing or rushing sound

On August 2, the author described the rain falling noisily on the corrugated tin roof. There was no storm or thunder, only the gentle fall of tropical raindrops. It made it easier for the author to stay awake, but it didn't prevent him from falling asleep.

It is a good sound to read by — the rain outside, the quiet within — and, although tin roofs are given to springing unaccountable leaks, there is a feeling of being untouched by, and yet in touch with, the rain.

He explains how the sound of rain creates a pleasant atmosphere for reading, with rain outside and silence inside. He mentions the usual leaks from the tin roof and how they give you the impression that they have touched you while keeping you untouched.
August 3

The rain stops. The clouds begin to break up, the sun strikes the hill on my left. A woman is chopping up sticks. I hear the tinkle of cowbells. In the oak tree, a crow shakes the raindrops from his feathers and caws disconsolately. Water drips from a leaking drainpipe. And suddenly, clean and pure, the song of the whistling thrush emerges like a dark sweet secret from the depths of the ravine.

August 12

Endless rain, and a permanent mist. We haven’t seen the sun for eight or nine days. Everything damp and soggy. Nowhere to go. Pace the room, look out of the window at a  few bobbing umbrellas. At least it isn’t cold rain. The hillsides are lush as late-monsoon flowers begin to appear — wild balsam, dahlias, begonias and ground orchids.

  • Chopping up- to cut something into small pieces
  • Disconsolately- unhappily
  • Drainpipe- a pipe for carrying off rainwater or liquid refuse from a building
  • Thrush- a small or medium-sized songbird, typically having brown back, spotted breast and loud song
  • Ravine- valley
  • Bobbing-make a sudden move so as to appear or disappear
  • Lush- (of vegetation, especially grass) growing luxuriantly

The clouds begin to separate as the rain stops on August 3rd, giving way to the sun on the writer's left. A woman could be seen cutting sticks into smaller pieces, and cowbells could be heard tinkling. A crow sitting on an oak tree shook itself to avoid the raindrops on its feathers as it cawed unhappily, and water dripped from the leaking drainpipe that carried rainwater away from the building. As the everything settled, the pure song of the whistling thrush could be heard from the valley's depths like a "dark sweet secret."
The hills had been experiencing continuous rain and permanent mist by August 12. They hadn't seen the light of sun in about eight to nine days. Everything in the surroundings was wet and moistened. There was nowhere to go. The only option was to move around the room or look out the window at a few umbrellas that were suddenly moving. The author is pleased that the rain was not cold. As the last-monsoon flowers began to bloom, the vegetation could be seen growing luxuriantly and abundantly on the hillsides. Wild balsam, dahlias, begonias, and ground orchids are among the flowers that have begun to bloom.

August 31

is the last day of August, and the lush monsoon growth has reached its peak. The seeds of the cobra lily are turning red, signifying that the rains are coming to an end.

The last day of the month, August 31, also marked the end of the monsoon season. The monsoon vegetation growth had reached its peak by that time, and the colour change of the cobra lily seeds to red indicated the end of the rainy season as well.

In a few days the ferns will start turning yellow, but right now they are still firm, green and upright. Ground orchids, mauve lady’s slipper and the white butterfly orchids put on a fashion display on the grassy slopes of Landour. Wild dahlias, red, yellow and magenta, rear their heads from the rocky crevices where they have taken hold.

  • Landour- a small cantonment town touching Mussoorie
  • Crevices- narrow openings or cracks in rock or wall

The flowerless plants or ferns will begin to turn yellow against their present fresh green colour as they stand firm and upright over the next few days. He mentions how ground orchids, white butterfly orchids, and mauve lady's slipper made Landour's grassy slopes look fashionable. Furthermore, the red, yellow, and magenta wild dahlias heads back to the narrow openings in the rocks where they had taken hold.

Snakes and rodents, flooded out of their holes and burrows, take shelter in roofs, attics and godowns. A shrew, weak of eyesight, blunders about the rooms, much to the amusement of the children. “Don’t kill it,” admonishes their grandmother. “Chuchundars are lucky — they bring money!” And sure enough, I received a cheque in the mail. Not a very large one, but welcome all the same.

  • Burrows- a hole or tunnel dug by a small animal, especially a rabbit, as a dwelling
  • Attics- a space or room inside or partly inside the roof of a building.
  • Shrew- a small insectivorous mammal resembling a mouse, with a long pointed snout and tiny eyes
  • Blunders- act clumsily
  • Admonishes- warn or reprimand someone firmly
  • Chuchundars- hindi word for shrew

The snakes and rodents that have emerged from their holes and burrows in large numbers have sought shelter in roofs, attics, and godowns. A shrew, a small insectivorous mammal that looks like a mouse and has poor eyesight, moved around the room clumsily. It was a source of entertainment for the kids. Their grandmother warned them not to kill it because Chuchundars, as they are known in Hindi, bring wealth and prosperity. The author makes a joke about it and surely to have received a cheque in the mail. Although not a huge sum, it is still appreciated.

October 3

We have gone straight from monsoon into winter rain. Snow at higher altitudes. After an evening hailstorm, the sky and hills are suffused with beautiful golden light.

  • Suffused- gradually spread through or over

The end of the extended monsoon season brought the mountains straight into winter rain in October. The altitudes were snow-covered. After a hailstorm the night before, the sky and hills were bathed in beautiful golden light on October 3rd.

January 26

Winter Rains in the Hills In the hushed silence of the house when I am quite alone, and my friend, who was here has gone, it is very lonely, very quiet, as I sit in a liquid silence, a silence within, surrounded by the rhythm of rain, the steady drift of water on leaves, on lemons, on roof, drumming on drenched dahlias and window panes, while the mist holds the house in a dark caress.

  • Hushed- very quiet and still
  • Drenched- wet thoroughly; soak
  • Caress- touch gently

Winter rains fall on the hills during the month of January. The author talks about the 26th of January, when he was alone in the quiet and still house. The friend who had accompanied him earlier had also gone. He describes how lonely and quiet it was as he sat in complete silence, experiencing the silence within. The rhythm of the rain surrounded him, the slow and gentle movement of water on leaves, lemons, and the roof as it drummed on already wet dahlias and window panes. In its darkness, the mist gently covered the house.

As I pause near a window, the rain stops. 
And starts again. 
And the trees, no longer green but grey, 
menace me with their loneliness.

  • Menace- be a threat or possible danger to

The rain stopped and started again as the author stood near the window. He mentions that the trees are no longer green and are now grey, threatening him with their loneliness.

March 23

Late March. End of winter. 
The blackest cloud I’ve ever seen squatted over Mussoorie, and then it hailed marbles for half an hour. Nothing like a hailstorm to clear the sky. Even as I write, I see a rainbow forming.

  • Squatted- sat (here)

He then writes about the end of the winter season in late March. He described seeing the blackest and darkest cloud over Mussoorie. For about thirty minutes, hail the size of marbles fell. He explains how nothing clears the sky like a hailstorm. He mentions that a rainbow was forming while he was writing his diary.

                           About the Author

Ruskin Bond was born in Kasauli, Punjab, India, on May 19, 1934. Edith Clarke and Aubrey Bond gave birth to him. His father was a member of the Royal Air Force. His parents divorced when he was still a child. When he was ten years old, his father died. In Shimla, he attended Bishop Cotton School. In 1950, he graduated from high school. He enjoyed reading and was influenced by the works of Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, and Rudyard Kipling, among others. He began writing in high school and won several competitions, including the Irwin Divinity Prize and the Hailey Literature Prize. 'Untouchable,' his first collection of short stories, was published in 1951. Later, he moved to the United Kingdom and wrote his first novel, 'The Room on the Roof.' He was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for his novel.




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