Wednesday, June 3, 2020


Today, on the context of the just departed "Nisarga" cyclone, I can't help but remember the one day in my life, which was sooo unique and nightmarish, like a bad dream!

I put down here, before you, my nightmare on a day, when I witnessed a natural calamity, one of its type, probably and hopefully the only one in my lifetime, for your quiet introspection! I was lucky to have escaped it, unscathed, happy to be alive and overjoyed to be able to come back home! Many were not so lucky! It was in 2004, 16 years back, but still the memories are very vivid and clear! 

As I think retrospectively, once again, I am appalled at the way we have played with nature, manipulated it and taken it for granted! Now, it is manipulating us! And you cant blame it at all! Sharing my experience, hoping that you will realize the gravity!

It was a star- spangled night in December 2004! After a fortnight of vigorous planning, we were on our way to Kanya Kumari, the southernmost tip of India! We were about to join a parasailing camp, organized by a private sea-sports group, a few kilometers away from Kanya Kumari. It was a dream, about to come true! Excited about the adventures in store for us, we boarded the train, which shot through the dark, cold night, cutting into the darkness, crossing all the dark tunnels. With the rhythmic movement of the train, we all succumbed to the tranquility of deep sleep.
After a day in the train, the smell of the sea, the clear skies, the crisp, cold wind, indicated our ensuing joy! We were nearing our destination, the holy Kanya Kumari! The scenes passing by reminded me of all the beautiful landscapes, in oil and paint, which I had only seen on canvas, till today! We were silent, each one of us absorbing the environment, the beauty and the tranquility around us! Where else could heaven be? Spontaneously, we bowed to Mother Nature, our salutations splurging right from the bottom of our hearts! We had arrived at our destination. Before joining the camp, we had one whole day at our disposal. With elated spirits, very silently, we were off to the world famous spot, stories of Swami Vivekananda, the meditation centre, the temple, revolving in our minds!
We started off to the sea shore, close to our residential place and flopped down on the sparkling white sands. The endless sea lay in front of us. The waves came softly towards us. Moon light bathed the sea. The sea seemed meditative and tranquil! It was purely magic! Words eluded us. We were drinking in, the magic of the moment! The memories are still etched in my mind!
We had decided to run into the sea water but it looked so sacred that none of us felt like disturbing the tranquillity surrounding us!
The next day, the temples, the museum in the city, were a feast to our eyes and cameras. The time had now come to visit the famous temple. We had to sail in small boats to reach the temple, some miles off the sea shore. It was a clear sky and we set off singing merrily. Mesmerized by the surroundings, we reached our destination. The meditation centre was the pinnacle. After about two hours, we were standing at the southernmost tip of the Indian continent. We could see the inter mingling of the waters, colored differently. I had heard a lot about this place. Three oceans embraced each other at this point, a sight beyond imagination. I was capturing all the images in my mind and my handicam. I decided, after reaching the shores of Kanya Kumari, I would capture the temple from different angles. Getting inside a small boat, we started our journey back. The winds had changed direction. We could feel a slight change in the weather too! We reached the shore and I trotted off to capture the pictures of the temple from different angles, for the dear ones, at home.
I was walking towards the sea and to my horror; I could see a very, very, very big wave, over the statue of Swami Vivekanand. It had engulfed the statue and washed over it. I thought, it was a visual trick, this couldn’t be true! I had just left the site! With total concentration, I watched in awe! The huge wave was followed by another wave and another and another! This was not normal! The natives started gathering. Slowly, all turned into chaos. My friends were calling me back, our sacks drenched in the waves. I couldn’t believe, all was so peaceful here, some minutes back! The waves were all around us. We ran back, carrying whatever we could, with us! Our bags were wet and heavy. We went to the terrace of our residential hotel and what we saw was beyond imagination! Huge waves were all around the shore. They were rapidly encroaching the land! Small houses, visible some time back, had disappeared beneath the devilish waves! Water had reached the lower levels of the city. Not knowing what to do, we just locked ourselves in the hotel room, hoping everything would come back to normalcy! When we woke up the next day, there was worst possible devastation around us. We were lost, without lights, electricity, milk, tap water and newspapers! It was the morning of 27th December, 2004! We didn't know, what truly guided us, but through all chaos around us, not paying attention to our tummies crying out for food, we walked heavily towards the railway station and caught the first train back, which would take us to our “home, sweet home”! We had forgotten why we had come to Kanya Kumari. We wanted to get away, as fast as possible! Loads of people surrounded us, boarding and alighting. They belonged to all ages, castes, creeds and colors! They had lost their homes; some had lost their near and dear ones, some had lost all their belongings while some had lost everything. But they had saved their own lives and they had hope in their eyes! We watched helplessly. Their problems were huge and beyond repair.
After a few stations, we got to see the newspapers and reality stuck! WE WERE THE FIRST HAND WITNESSES OF THE TSUNAMI WAVES! We had seen them coming, we had captured them in memories and cameras. Tsunami waves had engulfed a large portion of mankind. The stories were all over the news papers. My skin tingled with goose flesh. I couldn’t and wouldn’t believe that we were there, when the calamity struck! We couldn’t imagine that we had had such a close encounter with NATURE”S WRATH and we had escaped by God’s grace. We couldn’t attend the camp but I had witnessed the most stunning event, in the history of mankind! The memories are my most prized treasures! We were back home, safe and sound!
It is truly said, “If you are alive, you can capture a hundred forts!”

I am glad to be alive today, although I mourn all those innocent lives, lost in the Tsunami waves. Somewhere deep in my heart, I can’t help but think if, we humans are responsible for such calamities. If these could really be called natural or are they man made?? It’s high time we introspect!!!

Green Blogger
Dr Mrs Jaya Vikas Kurhekar