Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Life In the Times of Tsunami

Life In The Times of Tsunami

The tsunami is just a series of images now- its strange how an overlay of events can filter memories until they are just videobytes. Just waking up late on another morning and hearing of the horror rom my husband in the next city!Worrying about my cook whose family stays in a tenement on the shore.An awful dread when something you had thought of as a blessing becomes a threat.Overcast skies.My cook's little granddaughter talking about being carried downstairs from the marooned thirdfloor on her father's shoulders, quite casually without emotion and marveling when told later that she has nightmares.My little daughter telling all her friends that she had been caught on the beach, in the tidal wave.Collecting clothes for the Greenpeace drive from the neighbours and sifting through suits, swimsuits(!) and funny hats.Hearing with a horrified shiver that the beach in Srilanka my kids had sneaked away to, alone, from the resort, had been washed away. Watching queues of people for food supplies on the beach and the debris from the flood.My nephew who had gone to help with the bodies on the second day, saying he had found just a leg, once.Going to Nagapattinam a week later and finding the church still standing, miraculaously at Velankanni, the massive turnout of volunteers and the
comradeship, the heartening response from the authorities. Helping set up a legal coordination cell with my husband and help desks.Talking to relatives of surviviors and helping them identify bodies- one man had not heard from his son in a year -he was from Bihar- and had heard just then that he was in the area- the hope that he would not find his son's bodyand the hopelessness in case he continued missing-a trio of construction workers women from Andhra whose families had gone-a man from Nilgiris who had lost 9 family members.Rushing from court and a pesistent client who wanted the case done when judges had fled on a tsunami scare, worried about my assistant reaching home, worried about my kids and stuck in a massive traffic jam, cellphone lines jammed. Hearing about a Swedish woman I had met and bonded with about our little daughters, dead in Phuket.Filing a writ when fisherpeople werto be evicted without their consent from the shore as a relief measure(!). Being soothed by Anita Ratnam dancing as goddess Kwan Yi in white, she of the lantern in the graveyard of souls on 31st night. Perhaps writing about it, the remembered horror will recede a little.

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