THOSE TWO FRIDAYS

One was the 29th October 1999 and another was after 20years, the 3rd May 2019. Before day govt. noticed all institutions and workplaces to shutdown till further notice. Someway the workaholic life got vacation, families planned for good meal and enjoy the time together. As usual the sun rises on the east, the sky was more cloudy than normal days and the cool breeze giving the warmth of the feeling of romantic poet. A kid wakes up lately giggling such a cool and windy weather outside and holiday. The early morning day light falls through the glass window and cool breeze flows from the balcony, the young newly married couple gleams at each other, pulls the bedsheet and snuggles back to sleep. A mother wakes up quietly, covers her kid and husband making them sleep comfortable and takes her morning cup while enjoying the weather she prepares her menu chart for the day. Oh, what a package blissful moment of togetherness at once! What more a busy workaholic routine life wishes for days & years together?

Yes, mostly that’s how both of those Fridays we started but as the darkness get darkened, the fear of death engulfed gradually, we heard people screaming for help, doors and windows battering to fall down and the rain was pissing down. Huge trees uprooting and shattering down like a pile of cards, no electricity and was darkness all around, it was just one candle struggling to burn and lighten the whole house, drainage pipes are blocked, food on the dinning congealed, unidentified objects are flying all over and crashing down at our doorpost, moreover the ghastly sound of the windspeed at 260 km/h & 180 km/h was roaring like a death angel visiting every home. All that we as a family was left to do is to lock ourself from inside and praying God to save us. Thank God, He saved us, the night crossed and lo, it was another morning but life wasn’t the same at all. There was heavy waterlog, most of the riverside slums looked like a pile of wasteland, roads are blocked with broken age-old trees, electric wires and uprooted electric poles, broken hoarding flown from different ends of the city, dead body of animals and humans all around, poisonous reptiles swimming in the drain water and shifting of people to highland in boats. A couple of days back, while I was returning from school there was heavy traffic on the same road but now people are sailing boats, ODRAF, NDRF & CRPF sailing motor boats to rescue us. I questioned myself, is this my hometown? A night-mare for all of us in the Coastal part of Odisha.

29th October 1999, the strongest ever recorded tropical cyclone “The Super Cyclone” from North Indian Ocean landfalls on Paradip coast (83.2 km from my hometown) elevated the sea-level more than 20 feet, sea waves wiped away more than 100 of blocks giving water grave to uncountable people. The govt. calculation says, nearly 10,000 people died in the Super Cyclone and the private surveys estimates more than that. Then I was studying Class – VI, after a decade when I started my professional carrier, I was assigned for the Child development work in exactly those blocks/areas. As I went there, I personally meet the local people and had spent many nights with them. They always shared their stories – Father shifted the wife and children to the school roof top and when he tried to climb suddenly the wave rubble him into the depths and in a fraction of second, he went invisible from earth. After weeks as the water went down some kids found their parents rotten dead bodies being eaten by vultures. I pray, no one should ever experience such cataclysmic moments in their life.

Just two decades later, on 3rd May 2019, at 8:30 A.M the strongest summer time tropical cyclone in last 45 years “Fani” from North Indian Ocean landfalls on Puri coast (81.6 km from my hometown) elevated the sea-level to 6.8 meter, the sea waves sand painted numerous hotels of the Puri city. Though the Odisha govt. did historical human evacuation operation, evacuating more than 1 million people to safe places within 24 hour prior to the storm landfall yet it adversely affected 1,65,00,000 people in 159 blocks of 14 districts, the death rate rises to 64, more than 100 human causalities and 34 lakh livestock casualties according to the govt. of Odisha report. Away from home, the whole day I was in touch with my parents and couple of my friends enquiring about them. By God’s grace all were fine though they had to live without electric, network and scarcity of water for a week and yet in some places especially Bhubaneswar and Puri is almost in the same condition. During that time, I received a huge number of pictures and videos of Fani devastation but one picture that really broke my heart – A marginalised young man is holding his small daughter in his arm and holding his wife’s hand in the other hand and the wife holding the son’s hand and all three of them are running out of their house. At the same moment, the wind blows up their asbestos roof cracking the wall of the house. How heart-wrenching moment it must be!

Whether it is Fani/Phailin/Hud-Hud/Aila/the monstrous of all – the Super Cyclone or any sort of natural calamity it may be, in the darkness of these catastrophes one profound revelation is “The Earth is cursed & Our Life consists between the thin-line of a passing wind!

Long Bible story short, a rich man having more than of everything in his life thought, I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now, chill! Eat, drink and be merry”. But God said, “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?”

Who knows what will happen to our world tomorrow? Life is unpredictable but death is certain and after death there is a life, hence where is our concern of venturing of investments – a mere transitory life on earth or the eternal existence of soul we hold within?  

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