SURVIVING ( Part 3)

Both their families were opposed to the match. So the best part of  1995  and the beginning of 1996 were spent convincing them that they indeed wanted to get married. When they finally exchanged vows in May next year , it was not in a registrar’s office but in her house in the presence of the registrar. Sceptics gave their  marriage less than a year!

Despite all their differences the marriage stayed strong and flourished. There was Mini who joined them in 1998 and  the sceptics were slowly silenced!

They had visited Tarangampadi just once after that – when Mini was two! Sister Veronica was happy to host them. The visit to Velankanni followed- this time he grudgingly accompanied her inside the church as she gave thanks for the happiness.

January 2005

It took them over six hours to get to Tarangampadi. The entire coast, seemed to have suddenly  become omnious. The sea which was a witness to all those romantic evenings had  shown a side to itself which they did not know existed.

The beautiful village of Tarangampadi wore a grim look. She looked up at the shore and was glad to see the fort standing strong – though part of the land around it had been washed away.

Sister Veronica was busy with relief work. She did not have time to talk to them much.

As they made their way to the village along the coast, they mentally started looking up people they had met earlier. Renuka and her family were thankfully safe- though their house had had been washed away. They, along with most of the villagers were living in temporary shelters.  Pacchaimuthu was alive but he had lost his teenage grand son and his daughter in law. Every body wanted to speak to them telling them again and again about that horrible morning.

She did not want to hear them but as he told her it was important that they listen-that was all that they could do .

The place was filled with NGOs and aid workers-  lot of foreigners –people who were professionally moving around the streets!. She had a sense of bitterness about them- “Do you even know these people? Their life as it used to be?” But she realized the futility of such thoughts because their life did not hold memories linked to the place like hers did.

She spoke to Geeta – a young girl who was still in school when they had first met. Geeta had lost her parents and her young baby. Chinnaponnu – another woman in the village had lost two grand children. But what she seemed very bitter about was the fact that the waves had spared the third grand child who was mentally challenged..!

Both of them felt emotionally drained.

“I don’t know what we were expecting when we came here but this is too much” he confessed as they made their way towards the fort! She felt pretty much the same.

She took in the beach beyond the fort – not much of the land remained. There were stones heaped up forming a sort of dam- to prevent the sea from coming inwards.

Interestingly, the ruined  house of the governor nearby had been restored by a hotel chain into a very fancy resort- the children no longer played hide and seek there. Rich adults from foreign countries lived there on rent…!

“Everything seems to be changed. Life as we knew it has gone with the waves” she muttered sitting down near the entrance to the fort wiping away her tears.

At some level, they realized that they had associated this little village with their life together. He was not superstitious but he was glad that at least this fort remained standing strong.. he could not have taken it had it succumbed to the waves.

“ Why did it all end like this? ” she asked suddenly.

“ Nothing has ended. Many people have survived just like this fort. And think back .. the memories will never die. It is for us to keep them alive” he said softly.

The sun was setting, bathing the sea red. Was it the colour of blood she wondered?  Why was the colour suggesting these thoughts today when eight years ago it looked like the blush on a bride’s cheek…!

“It is all a state of our mind and our reality” he continued holding out his hand to help her up. They made their way slowly towards the convent. They had to hand in  their cheque to sister and start for Chennai- dark coastal roads were not something that he fancied now , clamoring as they must be with the spirits of lives gone long before their time.

“ The guilt of survival” was something that she had read in psychology books about disaster survivors. “Are we guilty that our life is going strong while theirs has been ruined?” she asked him as they started on their journey.

“I am not guilty.. I feel a sense of great respect for the survivors- people who are standing strong like that fort there. People  who will eventually  bounce back and  rebuild their life. Learn to have faith in human kind” he said squeezing her hand gently before starting the car.

( concluded)

( The trouble with  presenting fact as fiction is that things get a big long winded.  And  when the fact in question is a lived experience one loses control over words 🙂 Thank you readers for your patience)

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. KP
    May 09, 2012 @ 17:40:49

    The third part brought in some sadness when it dealt with hardships undergone by the local people. but ended on optimistic note on the capacity of humans to survive.
    The story (or the incident) in 2 parts was by itself complete and ended on happy note

    Reply

  2. anilkurup1959@gmail.com
    May 09, 2012 @ 18:07:02

    I agree with KP.
    May be you chose to confine and restrict the sorrow to the words you used in describing. Hope to see more tales .

    Reply

  3. Bikramjit Singh Mann
    May 09, 2012 @ 19:10:26

    oh a sad end what misery and hard ship faced by the people. dont know why we have to face such harships i guess nature has its own way of balancing ..

    but going back to the fort and all memories indeed remail alive always ..

    Nicely written .. Thanks for sharing

    Reply

  4. Jack
    May 09, 2012 @ 20:59:06

    Meera,

    None of us can say what will happen tomorrow. I can now understand what happened much better than what was in newspapers or on TV. I can relate to this somewhat as I was just about 5 years old when I followed my father & uncle who waded through flood waters to rescue persons injured in a train accident due to small bridge having been washed away. I still have very clear memories of that. I agree with him that we not only need to support the survivors but respect them for their strength to bounce back inspite of such losses.

    Take care

    Reply

  5. kavyadreams
    Jun 02, 2012 @ 18:31:18

    Very nicely weaved the emotions….Wonderful tales ……..Keep writing:))

    Reply

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