When I finished listening to the last excerpt of The Book of Kindness, my eyes welled up. Mr. Ajay’s story was like living the day and the aftermath of it once again. I can’t deny I haven’t know of a similar family and again many had and have been going through the same pain and tragedy. 

I lost my own best friends to the heartless tsunami waves. We didn’t know it was called tsunami until a few weeks later, co-incidentally I had read a small paragraph about tsunami in my geography textbook in class 5th. I was in Carnic for almost 2 years. We had never imagined we would face something of this magnitude in life ever. My father tells us to this day that if we survived tsunami, we can survive anything in life. Truly, whenever I am low in life, doubting myself, crying over a failure or a big mistake; I remind myself of this. There is more to life than the situation in hand. I can not see the light just yet but I can be hopeful that God or the guiding force of the universe will do justice. S/he will guide me to a better place like the helicopter airlifted us to the safer land.

In those few hours of uncertainty, when the pillars of the ramp were shaking and two had already swept off, my father took out a pen and wrote names, phone number and permanent address on the back of our tshirts/frocks. We were just trying to sense what is going on around us, people were praying and some were inconsolable as they were separated from their family. I remember many encounters of close family friends, I do not wish to write them here. We were all from the same air force unit. I started praying to God when I saw my parents and those around me do it. I said “God, I am so small, I have not seen the world. I want to live and experience everything. Save my family.”. What else a small kid can pray for, that is all that matters when you are faced with death.

The water level was rising and our two storey house was submerged in water, I could only see the slanted tin roof above water level. A few people had climbed up this roof to escape the rising water, nobody knew what was gonna happen next. We were around 60-70 people on a shaking cement ramp some 50 feet above ground meant for ATC radar. It was God’s grace and a miracle that we all survived on that unreliable concrete structure, had it not been there, I would not be writing this. What all could happen next only hit me when our caring and strong hearted father told us to lay flat on the water, and I was like why would we have to lie on the water? We are on this ramp. Then I peeped through the cracks of this structure and saw water and only water underneath. (I don’t intend to make this post scary or heart wrenching and definitely don’t want to give a portrayal.)

After an ordeal of a few long hours, a helicopter ride, finding my brother on the airport all safe, given a shelter in a tent and some food and water which God only arranged, we were taken to the mainland the following day. Papa did not come with us in that giant cargo airplane, that journey as I recall today, was the most heartbreaking sight. God was kind on us, but not on everybody around. How and when we reached our respective homes, when did we unite with Papa. All that is very close to my heart but immaterial at the moment. 

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I fold my hands and bow my head in humbleness for this beautiful life that I am living. I will continue in the next part. I am sharing my thoughts about the 2004 tsunami that originated in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, Dec 26 in 2004. Sharing positive thoughts and empathy for the survivors, fighters and everybody affected by the calamity. If I write something that brings anybody the slightest pain please forgive me and let me know.

I really salute and applaud the Indian Air Force, all the task forces, the NGO’s, Government at the time and each and every individual, community, organization that helped us at every step with promptness and empathy.

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