Waking up to the sound of rain, a cow mooing with discomfort and a dog howling terrified of being trapped in water, all indicated it was not going to be a typical day which sees the chirping of birds, noisy squirrels checking out fruits on the trees and the traffic. The house is close to one of the main highways that sees regular traffic, but this morning it was strangely slow except for the siren of ambulances. Waking up to the monsoon rains in Kerala is a norm, but this was a shower with a difference. It was reaching catastrophic levels in many parts of the state but no one thought much about its impact on Thrissur.
A family was busy enquiring about the rain and its impact with the relatives in Kochi, a city where “trouble was brewing”.
That particular morning, Thrissur was beginning to see something different. Water had reached the gates and soon, halfway of the path to the house.
This water had life, it had a steady flow and direction. It wasn’t flowing in from the main gate, but through a small side gate. It moved in, slowly and steadily.
There were friends who had lost both their cars, while many houses had become water containers. Some could move out on time, while others were stranded.
The youth came out in full force to help. There were others who knew how to deal with the situation and there were fishermen.
On the road was now a boat in the place of vehicles because the interior roads had become water canals as the streams nearby spilled into them.
Was it the opening of dam shutters that was dangerous or was it the landslides due to the torrential rains? People could not figure out, but they ran out to help each other. The youth walked on the streets, calling out to ask if anyone needed help. Places of worship and learning became homes.
Fishermen, it seems, had consoled others saying the New Moon day will see the sea take away the water. Sneaking down at 1 am to check on the sitting room was a relief because it was dry. There was no electricity and the inverter had exhausted its energy. Uncle decided it was time for a generator. But diesel and petrol had become rare commodities.
Stepping into the kitchen and it was a realization on how much we depend on electrical appliances for cooking. It was back to the basics — candle-lit dinners and cooking by the lamps. With no TV and Wi-Fi, as well as no newspaper, it was only natural to think about the importance of radio as a news medium.
Water could not drain out and the trees or lack of trees could not hold the land together. Water went back the same way it came in. Away from Kerala, cannot forget there are thousands trying to pick up their life from what has been left behind by the water.
There is one person I know who is still asking, “What should I do?” He is a friend who works in Muscat, but rushed to Kerala after what he saw on news. He had sent pictures of landscape. When enquired about it, the reply came two days later, “That is where my house used to be along with the neighbouring houses. I lost my father, mother, sister and her two daughters. Only her young son survived because when my father saw what was coming, he asked him to run. He hesitated and asked for his mother, but father said ‘Run!’ and he did. He is the only survivor. The two daughters were asleep.” “I have lost everything,” he said. The rush is on to send money and relief materials. They need a new beginning. They also need advice, friends and time. But nothing is impossible.