Sat, 12 Jun 2021 Today's Paper

2004-12-26 Tsunami Nine years after

25 December 2013 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A


Portraits of Resilience




A mother’s nightmare

 Nagalakshmi, lost two of her children in the Tsunami
"I loved and lost and survived"  Rae Carson



Since 2004, December 26 marks the death anniversaries of two of Nagalakshmi’s children.
 “I lost my only son and one of my daughters to the atrocious waves. We have not found their bodies to this day,” she says heaving a loud sigh.

A resident of Periyakallaru, she was a mother of nine children but only seven survive today.

“Everything happened so fast that day. We were inside the house when we heard some of our neighbours screaming for help, claiming the sea was gushing ashore. I only remember stepping out of the house to check and seeing a giant wall of water hurling towards our houses. I froze in shock and got caught in the strong current and the next thing I remember is waking up on a hospital bed in Kalawanchikudy where I spent close to six months, suffering in pain,” she tells.  Nagalakshmi says she had accidentally swallowed the sea water that had rushed in with the Tsunami wave and it created a plethora of health issues for her.

“I was unable to consume any food for six months. I was fed through tubes and I kept coughing up some blackish substance. To this day, my body has not regained normalcy,” she adds.

Nagalakshmi’s husband had died about a year ago and now she is completely dependent on her three daughters, with whom she lives.

“We lost everything to the Tsunami; our house, our belongings. But those are things that can be bought unlike my children’s lives. There is no pain greater than having to outlive your children. . .” she says as she breaks down in tears.

(LP)
 







Recollection of a bloody Sunday

Survivor and aspiring lawyer, 16 year-old Sangeetha
"To live is to be haunted "- Philip K. Dick



“We were at the Sunday mass when we heard a deafening blare from behind the church. I was very young and I remember feeling even smaller as the crowd in the church began darting outside, screaming the terrorists were attacking the village,” 16 year-old Sangeetha Komalapalam - an aspiring lawyer says as she awakens the faint memories of that odious morning nine years ago.

Sangeetha was among the 33 girls of the Herman’s Girls’ Home (an orphanage managed by the church) who partook in the morning mass at the St. Andrew’s Church in Periyaneelavanai, Batticaloa on December 26, 2004. It hadn’t taken long for the church-devotees who mistook the commotion outside for a terrorist attack to realize they were in fact attempting to outrun a ferocious sea wave.

“As our warden took us outside midst the chaotic crowds, I remember seeing a giant, grey wave that reached as high as that tree, coming at us from the distance. . ,” Sangeetha says pointing towards a lone Palmyra tree bordering the beach.

“I suppose our warden foresaw the danger and dragged us back into the church. Few seconds later, a giant wave swooshed past the church. That was the last time I saw our Pastor’s wife and his baby,” she says adding the rest of the events that expired are a complete blur. She says she cannot remember much except for few flashbacks.

“I remember visiting the church grounds about two weeks later to find nothing left except for debris and rubble. It was only about a month later that my parents were able to visit me because the roads had been blocked following the Tsunami. I was very young then and did not quite grasp the gravity of what I witnessed. But I recall that for the longest time I was afraid to sleep alone in my room because I felt like I was being haunted by the souls of those who died on the church grounds that morning -sometimes I still feel that way . . .”

(LP)
 







Miracle Believer

Former Principal and survivor, V. Sugumar
“Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist” - David Ben-Gurion



Resident of Kallaru, V.  Sugumar firmly believes he was spared the wrath of the Tsunami wave by the grace of God.

“A total of seven people were reported dead in my village and several others went missing. My wife and I could have easily fallen prey just like them. We were even caught in the wave, slapped against rocks and trees but instead of being dragged out into the sea, we were rescued by some villagers while we were floating about, caught in the current,” he tells, recalling his memories.

“The sky appeared just like today, dark and angry and one could almost sense the evil that nature was about to unleash upon us,” he adds while pointing at the sky, gloomy with heavy rain clouds.  

When Sugumar saw the angry wave in the distance, he had climbed up a coconut tree nearby.

“I was at the church, participating in the morning mass. My wife was unable to attend that morning and she was at home. I kept praying for her safety because there was nothing more I could do. Once the two waves crashed below me and subsided, I gradually descended and helped our Pastor look for his wife and baby. I suppressed my need to go home because I wanted to help those in most need. But our efforts were not successful.  Few hours later, I went home to find our house damaged but my wife safe and sound. It was truly a miracle!” Sugumar says with certainty.  

(LP)
 






A fighter

Survivor and former fisherman, A. S. Niswar
“A man can be destroyed but not defeated” - Ernest Hemingway



An armless man who was standing on the beach while staring at the blue ocean with a pensive look on his face, recollecting the Tsunami disaster says he lost his arm during the Tsunami wave.

“Before the Tsunami I used to work as a fisherman. And when the Tsunami came, I was returning home from the sea. When we were almost nearing the shore, suddenly a very strong wave came from the ocean as a flood and washed us away back into the sea while separating us from the boat.

“I was trying hard to stay without sinking, while desperately fighting with the waves, when suddenly a boat came and hit me. I don’t know whether it was our boat or not. But it was the sharp edge of a boat with a blade, and with the strong gush of water that came; my arm got caught to the sharp blade and cut its way through while pouring blood into the ocean. Since that day, I have been an armless man,” A.S. Niswar who was a 45 year old resident living in that area said.

This former fisherman is now unemployed and left with no option to support his family of four.
“I go begging to make ends meet,” he adds.

“Earlier our house used to be on the shore. But the Tsunami completely destroyed it nine years ago. However, after the Tsunami disaster, I and my family were given a house in a flat in this area by an NGO during the Tsunami reconstruction period. Now we live there,” Niswar told us while looking sadly at the sea. (JP)
 

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

  Comments - 0

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

 

Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment


Micro finance crisis in Sri Lanka : Tightening noose around rural womenfolk

A milkman positioned ahead of us, ringing the bell on his bicycle every now a

Quit smoking to keep Covid-19 away

World No Tobacco Day 2021 - Let us commit to QUIT SMOKING

Travails of people in troubled times

Curfews, lockdowns, or travel restrictions are generally understood as govern

Claiming compensation for X-Press Pearl inferno : Can the existing legal framework do justice?

Successive governments have carried out massive propaganda campaigns to promo



See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.