Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Its three years to that fateful Sunday morning….one that started unlike many others for me…Considering that I was tracking a rather controversial case, and had been, just for that sake, camping in Kancheepuram, for nearly a month then…the Kanchi Shankaracharya case…Just as I was thinking about tucking into some breakfast, I saw our driver, rush in, anxious…His parents were uncontactable, and there were news flashes on a local Tamil channel that high waves, some over two storeys had crashed against buildings along the Marina beach side… Was it a rumour or a false scare? The TV was turned on..and the anchor looked unsure…Bad sign, for that meant he hadn’t encountered a situation like this before..and he was going on and on, in that rather excited tones which becomes rather difficult to control when information is constantly filtering into your ears from your producer, so even as you are talking you need to be formulating it into coherent sentences for your audience…I switched on to national channels and they hadn’t latched on yet….10 minutes of flicking channels…and the first bit of information filters into the tickers…BREAKING NEWS…Earthquake off the coast of Sumatra…epicenter near Banda Aceh.. Huge waves reported to be formed as a result….. In another half hour, it has been identified as a Tsunami…just like the ones, we read about in geography textbooks, that is said to be the bane of Japan….But tsunamis aren’t anything to be scared of, are they? The mind questioned…and then started reports of people gone missing in Chennai… Alarm bells are by now ringing like fire engine horns in my head….Reporters are already on air, speaking excitedly about water entering first floor and some ‘exaggeratedly’ about second floors of building by the beaches…… My first brush with the deadly Asian tsunami that wiped away lakhs and lakhs of people in just under 5 minutes….A watery grave for many, some just disappeared off the face of the earth…poooof…. Theres a question that worries me till this date… When I was reporting on the tsunami, and I was traveling to Nagapattinam and Velankanni, had seen families fleeing inland…away from the seas which had turned on them…And just a couple of days later, I also saw huge mass graves being dug in a small corner of the earth and bodies, randomly dumped into them…brought in trucks and pushcarts and jeeps, barely covered, and just DUMPED into those graves…not even photographed.. Who were they? What were they doing when the waters just pounded the life out of them? Did they have time to panic? But that’s not the question that keeps coming back to me on every anniversary... Did anyone come back for these people, did anyone try to locate them? If they did, would they have known that their loved one lies buried in that non-descript patch of land far off the beaten path between Nagapattinam and Velankanni? I have never got a chance to go back there and check if the Church put up some epitaph…like a mass gravestone there…Some evidence that here lies buried many hearts, unknown, unsung…


  1. Terrific.
    Today, in Kerala, every TV channel was talking about the third anniversary and the forgotten promises by the government. People who lost every thing are still remaining in the shelters.

  2. I guess, like the enternal candle for the brave soldier, only the memories will continue to flicker... As you have mentioned, the real number of lives lost in the tsunami will always remain a mystery and that's the saddest thing. There'll still be mothers out there whose sons or daughters went missing on Dec 25, 2005, living with hope that someday, they'll return.