No one really lets you forget this day – the media always has some stories to mark the biggest natural disaster ever: the 2004 Tsunami. The earthquake that set it off was the third biggest ever (magnitude of Mw 9.1–9.3), and the longest in history, we are reminded (between 8.3 and 10 minutes). More people died, between 200 and 300 thousand, in those few minutes than in most other disasters! Not that there were no natural disasters prior to this, and close to home the Latur earthquake of 1993, the Odisha cyclone of 1999 and the Gujarat earthquake of 2001, had all been major disasters. Maybe, because these were prior to the media frenzy times or these were local in nature, none have captured the kind of attention that the Tsunami has. And of course, this year it is the 10th year – and hence, so much more the spotlight!
But for me and my family (all except Mukta, Rahul and Udai who was 6 months old then), standing on that beach in Hikkaduwa on that day, feels like yesterday (details are in an earlier blog). With time, the details have blurred, the immediate trauma has dimmed, but that sense of imminent loss of loved ones stays fresh. We go back to the sea, enjoy the beaches – but a stormy day at the beachside still evokes memories! My sister-in-law has put some of this in perspective in her recent blog.
That trip was to celebrate my brother’s 50th birthday! And in the decade since then, much has happened that is good ( coming of age, marriages, babies), and some that are not (illness). But then, that is what life is about I guess, and how we deal with the good and the not-so-good defines us as individuals. But for all of us, what ever our faith or religion, or without either, this will be a day of thanksgiving, a day of collective re-birth that have strengthened our family bonds and help us enjoy each day that is given to us. Of course, this is not without thoughts for the many, many thousnads who were not as lucky as we were, for those who lost their lives, loved ones, homes and everything else!