Snippets from a Life in Service – 3

Adarsh Misra, IAS, AGMUT

 

Apart from taking State wise stock of damage caused by the Tsunami of 2004, Planning Commission was tasked with designing the reconstruction and rehabilitation and I was asked to projectise and secure funds for the same. Lakhs of people had suffered loss of lives, limbs, livestock and land in the wake of the fury from the sea. Large parts of coastal Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and many islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands were amongst those affected. While implementation of different components was being handled by respective Ministries, a consultation with the affected people was launched and I accompanied the Member Planning Commission for an exhaustive consultation with the people both in Tamil Nadu and in A&N Islands.

The despair, desolation and loneliness, the lack of comprehension of our questions on what they needed to re-establish themselves was writ large on their faces. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands many Islands had got submerged under the sea. Even flying over the emerald sea, one could make out the outlines of many such places sunk under the sea.

I have tried to capture some of these images in the poems below:

 

Champin from Trinket and Kamorta

 

 

Dull the shadows of despair

Grey the etching of sorrow

dark the eyes that witnessed

The desolation of life that was

Shorn the leaves of the coconuts

Strewn the rocks of comfort

crumbling the façade of the house

surging the sorrow still

surf chilling the contours of hope

ships come and go

passing the corner of Safed Baalu

from where Michael swam across to Kamorta

the thud of the volleyball across from the shadow

of sunken Trinket village

an island engulfed in water

slowly the pieces sinking below

like mirrors in the unconscious

and nere a bubble will rise

At Champin the leaves are all strewn

The trees slanted over

Reaching over to cover the cemetery of debris of past lives

Broken bricks and mortar

the hollows of the houses amidst the debris of lives that were

The criss cross of the waves and the clouds

Like a shadow

On the tapestry of faces

Annie

Angelina

Marianne

Sitting with their arms across their knees

Silent their wake

Eyes blank as bewilderment

In the morning after the sun kisses the tears dry

And sapphire spreads like glass on the ocean

 

 

Boat trip to Champin

 

Ayesha of the luminous eyes

With pink orbs reflecting the rising full moon

Captain of the Nancowrie group of isles

long used to command

Rani she too like her

her grandmother who had ruled the tribe

Softly churns up despair

As she scores the horizon

Peering deep into the depths

as the ship crosses over

seeking seeking answers

looking still for the lost and missing

 

Katchal to Kamorta

 

The flat sea calm now that the young are deep below its sheen Playfully glinting its sapphire in the surf now gently calling the remaining young many in its hold forever asleep after the angry morning in and around the emerald isles and as the chopper flies over trinket island now engulfed and now emerging at safed baalu where Michael and his family were keeled over before they braved the wall of water and landed at Kamorta and Annie outside the shelter with her arms around her knees keeping them, her only possessions, safe and Angelina with blank eyes of bewilderment wondering at our questions about a permanent home the incomprehension in the eyes which had witnessed impermanence now being asked questions banal as ‘informed choice’ regarding sound design, capable of withstanding 9.0 Richter scales struggling to communicate that the sea will not let anything stay on this land.

 

Under the festooned tent strung up with bamboo leaves streamers of colored papers and flags made of soft and loud colored cloth a mute two in one on the corner of the table where sits Johann, the bridegroom with laughing face next to him sits Marianne with tears as long and narrow as the needle-sharp leaves of the drooping coconut. Her eyes still looking long and far away for the mother last seen in the swirl and swish of the wave and the surf the wet of the sea in her eyes as she looks for the father who was to give her away. Waiting for the priest she still mourns unable to leave behind her past even as she prepares for her future. Wet the rain as we greet and congratulate her still limp her response to our warmth and wishes, her demeanor the etching of the desolation of the make shift Japantikri, her makeshift home. Where she and her sister are now the mute survivors of a family of five A strange wedding on a strange land unfamiliar the contours of paths not yet tread.

 

 

 

 

Published by
Officers IAS Academy – Best IAS Academy in Chennai.

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