Weather or Whether

With due respect to meteorologists, I dare say that the weather always has whether as an appendage.

We people keep wondering depending on the season whether a cold front would be descending from Canada or a hot front will be ascending from Florida.

Weather proves the theory of relativity better than anything else does. In midwinter in the Windy City of Chicago, thirty-five degrees is mild while on the same day in Florida sixty-five degrees is chilly. In 1994, 500 hundred people died in Chicago from a heat wave when the mercury touched One hundred and twenty degrees while in Saudi Arabia it is the normal temperature in summer.

In Chicago people treat the weather persons in the same way the weather persons treat the ground hog: they always mention him but never take him seriously, a kind of make believe being like Santa Claus.

On the other hand, the news people around him treat him as if he makes the weather himself from scratch. When it is above normal temperature in winter they very obligingly say, “We’ll take it,” as if they are really thankful to the meteorologist for the nice weather. But weather is sultry they often taunt him and demand him to “make” better weather or at least improve it a little bit. Though sometimes he is ridiculed and made fun of, but he is never punished for his blunders…even the judges cannot make him say, “ I’ll tell the truth, nothing but the truth, so help me God.” That is why he never learns anything from his past mistakes.

I am a very weather conscious person. When I watch someone on television who is clad in heavy clothes, climbing up the snows of Mount Everest, I start shivering irrespective of temperature in my room. Once, during the summer, I read a book about winter in Siberia wrapped up in a comforter with my earmuffs on.

Although weather-science has improved tremendously, the whether part is still there. Some sage has put the dilemma of weather in words upon which cannot be improved: “the problem is that a weather forecast is not always wrong.”

Though I firmly believe in weather predictions, it somehow happens that I am never with an umbrella when I need it. More often than not, either I miss the good council of the meteorologist or don’t remember it by the time I decide to go out. If ever I remember to take the umbrella with me, it never rains.

The meteorologist predicts about the weather with confidence pointing to the weird shapes, circles, twisting wire-like lines, billowing clouds and patches of green and orange on the map. He impresses us with words like the barometric pressure, wind velocity and wind chill but when asked a specific question; he avoids giving a straight answer. His answer implies something like a famous song from fifties---

Que sera sera.
When I was a little doubtful
I asked my weatherman,
“Will it be raining?
Will it be sunny?”
This is what he said to me,
“Que sera sera
Whatever will be will be
Weather is not ours to see
Que sera sera.”
    Copyright © 2004 Razia Fasih Ahmad