“Why are you going? It is all flooded there,” my 7-year-old daughter asked me as I was leaving for Trivandrum. My family had not been too affected by the floods but the scale of devastation on the state was terrible. I was very apprehensive as I boarded the flight.
I was traveling on the day of Onam. In the 1 hour flight, I was seated on 1C and I got a chance to see most of the passengers. I did not see any special mood of our Onam festival understandably. I decided to read “Readers Digest.” I always felt that I cannot absorb the stories they cover in “Readers Digest” but in that 1 hour, I was absolutely engrossed in those stories. The lady sitting in 1D was reading a book titled “Heartfulness way” and I smiled at her and she smiled back.
In Trivandrum airport, while we were waiting for our baggage. I noticed an elderly person holding a book. I was curious to know the title and the author. So I started hovering around him and this time maneuvering my body to see if I can catch hold of the book cover and author details. Yes, I could get the name of the author and it was Atul Gawande. I had seen his TED talk and also I guess he was mentioned by Dan Gilbert as the happiest person.
I decided that I should engage with the man and so I went up to him and asked him, “Hi, How is this book?” Without losing a single moment he replied “Being mortal” That reply led me to have a conversation with him for the next 5 minutes. He was an entrepreneur and he was upbeat about Kerala. He shared a couple of book details and told me that, “We are rebuilding. We will have some of the best times in the years to come”. His words gave me the chills and I felt hopeful.
At home, I was very happy to see that my family and the house had not suffered much damage. My mother showed me the photos of our flooded house. It looked absolutely scary. In most of my conversation with my folks, it was only about how we were all united as one. Nobody was talking about the festive mood, but everyone was talking about how people braved all difficulties and decided to help and support each other. I saw and spoke to our neighbour Manoj, I met Madhu who helped my mother and I called all my relatives whom I had called on Aug 15th, in case I needed their help to evacuate my family. They all said one thing, “It was our duty” and I felt very happy.
Everywhere there were green shoots of recovery. I saw engineering graduates going from house to house and enquiring about the damages and trying to support in fixing issues on their own. In their own way, they were trying to help the bereaved and displaced families.
The next day, I heard a very sad tale of Vipin. He was 22 years old and a well-built person. He had saved a number of senior citizens. He was doing his best to save a lot of people, but unfortunately, he fell into a deep hole and he couldn’t help himself. My relative narrated this tale while we were on the beachfront waiting for the priest to perform the rituals of my brother-in-law, Hemant, who left us exactly 1 year back. I paused for a moment and gave a tribute to that wonderful person whom I did not know but his sacrifice brought a melancholic mood. I too recollected how Hemant’s life was also cut short. It was a moment to stay close with my Inlaws and family. I felt proud that I could be around to support. Vipin, to the people whom he rescued, will remain “Immortal” throughout their lives. In our lifetime, always in a “heartfulness” way, our family will continue to mourn Hemant’s untimely loss.
For the last one year, all of us were slowly coming to terms with the catastrophe that struck us. I was happy to see some green shoots of recovery- my inlaws were smiling, enjoying a get-together with children, narrating stories to my younger daughter, speaking to the kids on face time, discussing politics and weather and finally renewing their passport.
As I was walking on the aerobridge in Trivandrum, just above the place where the terminal name was displayed, I saw two leaves coming out of the cracks. I slowed down my pace and had a second look. It metaphorically displayed how lives in this God’s own country were springing back to normalcy from the catastrophe of floods.
After reaching Bangalore my daughter asked, “Is it still flooded? I told her, “Yes it is flooded with Humanity.”