I have lived in 18 rented homes, sought refuge in many retreat centres. I have moved across several districts in search of jobs and a better life. And for the first time, I finally slept in my own home at the age of 26. Hardly a week later, when we hadn’t even done a housewarming, the flood hit my area too. So, we moved out like everyone around us. It took a lifetime to build the house of our dreams; a humble abode built by saving every single penny especially by my hardworking brother. He couldn’t even stay there for a day with his wife and child! A house for which he is already paying loans.
Around this time, I had just got back from my relative’s house. I had already heard of flood-affected homes, but I was chill hoping it wouldn’t be that bad for us. When I stepped into my home, the ground floor was a complete mess. Things were scattered everywhere. There was dirt all over. The newly bought sofa set was covered in filth. The refrigerator, washing machine etc. had fallen down among many other assets. It was our hard earned money. The sight was heartbreaking.
But life moves on. It’s okay. There are people who lost their lives or lost their loved ones in the flood. So, our loss is nothing compared to them. It will cost us some money we can’t afford at the moment to rebuild our lives, but still, I am hopeful. But the flood is also a lesson learned about the vulnerability of human beings; where the human becomes purely human without any segregation; a test of one’s integrity and courage.
The flood showed us many inspiring faces. The face of an innocent baby smiling amidst the chaos; of a family moving out of a flooded home smiling gleefully; the man who himself became a step for people to climb into boats during rescue mission, the man who ran through a bridge with a toddler wrapped in his protective arms, the man who saved his pet dog from drowning, the man who gave away all his blankets meant for sale for people in relief camps, and people from many walks of life; young and old, rich and poor, from film stars to fishermen, from government officials to those self-employed who came forward without being asked.
It was a realisation of what we can do together; of how beautiful the world would be if differences ceased to matter. Today for the first time in my life, I am celebrating Onam in my own home, amidst all that we have lost. That childhood Onam rhyme seems to make sense now. Onam greetings to all! Everything is gonna be alright. As Karoly Takacs says, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”. Kerala will survive.