On Aug 15th (last week) I was on a hot line with my mother. Overnight, Kerala witnessed the heaviest downpour in a century. In the past, we have seen water coming up till our car porch and this time too my mother was thinking that it will recede. I kept checking with her every 30mins. Then suddenly she noticed that electricity has gone, her mobile prepaid recharge is getting over and I was also not sure how long the landline will continue to be working. Thanks to the internet and connectivity we decided to see how we can support her from here. First we recharged her prepaid connection. Second we decided that we will call on the land line and take feedback rather than on cell phone. By this time I had reached out to couple of my relatives and informed them that we will have to plan a rescue step in the event water cintinues to rise. All my relatives agreed to decide after 2PM. My mother was pretty confident and she felt confident up until 3.30PM, when the first signs of water entering our house was showing. I still recollect her tone when she said, “I am planning to keep the essentials in a small briefcase.” I asked her if she was planning to get out of the house. She said , “No” and told me that she will move along with other ladies aged 94 yrs, 84 yrs and 60 yrs to the first floor. She reached out for help outside and a team of 10 samaritans came to our house and got my 94 yr old grandmother to the first floor. She seemed relaxed but we were keeping our fingers crossed as all around people were talking about the overflowing river which is around 2 kms from our house. As I was glued on to televsion, I saw the hospital basement where I normally go for check up, submerged; places where I grew up around my house also getting inundated with water. Since we were at a distant location and just seeing those visuals I became worried. I was worried that she would get trapped in the house, I tried to reach to one more senior relative whose words normally she will not refuse. So it was only a question of time when we were planning if they needed to be evacuated and three of my relatives had told me that they can be shifted to their houses. It is at that point I realized the importance of relatives and neighbours who were really there at the beck and call to help my mother and family. I salute those people who really went out of the way and helped them and I would definetely make it a point to meet them once I am in my hometown. Good news was lurking around the corner as rains stopped and water started to recede and we all heaved a sigh of relief. Later my mother said, “What we went through is nothing as compared to lakhs of families in the state who had lost their near and dear ones, house and had to be shifted to the camps”. That was a real moment of pause for me over the phone.
A lot of people had these pause moments. I heard tales from my friends of how my friend’s maid came up to them and offered to give 1/4th of her salary to this cause. We were really touched by an audio clips which my friend shared in our group about how Navy is unable to locate her school friend as they were stuck in the flood. She directly cordinated with authorities and and finally airlifted her friend and family from that location to the camp and that tale was something I am sure she will cherish for the entire lifetime. We might have lost touch with school friends but thanks to technology and social media, this kind act of humanity was possible. I noticed that we had many Whatsapp groups (College, community, TILT groups, apartment groups, Corporate groups) working towards collecting money and essentials and planning to move it to different parts of Kerala. My wife and I participated in the apartment contribution and we were really awestruck to see the kind of help and support people were extending in these catastorophic times.
I heard several tales of people getting help and support. We saw fishermen risking their lives and evacuating people, we saw IT diaspora building a sturdy IT system to transfer the funds and we saw individuals all reaching out and helping and supporting. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those samaritans who risked their lives for helping the people and I am sure the only thing after years they can reflect and feel good about themselves is that “I mattered most when it mattered.” That to me is what we call meaning in our lives
Are you making meaning for yourself and others?