Every time a huge downpour came down and kept going for a while, the water level in the garden in front of my make shift place, would rise and come up to the steps of the house and that would raise our eyebrows and accelerate our heart beats. My daughter and me would work with the pointed end of an old umbrella to remove the leaves clogging the drain and then wait for the water to rush through this. Once it went through, all the water would disappear and that would give us all a temporary relief until the next downpour. At least five times in a day and sometimes at night, I would step out and walk up to the canal and see the situation of the water.
We could not take everything while we had rushed out of home. So I went back alone on three occasions to get several things like the hard drives, USB drives, cameras, camcorder, clothes, books for my daughter and other things out of my home. Walking through the water each time, for more than a kilometre, both ways, was an experience. But the water did not have strong currents like what South Chennai faced. It was pretty still and only had the little waves that people like us created while moving around. I noticed a lot of people leaving our area for safer places, probably anticipating another bout of heavy rain. Ministers, officials and politicians were all over the place at the entrance to the housing area. Firemen on several fire engines, water pumps and boats, still kept working day and night to pump out the water and to move people. Their state was really sad as they did not have any rest.
I saw a lady compel her daughter who was not keen at all, to pose for repeated photo shoots, while in the middle of the road flooded with water. A lot of people were walking around them, both ways, but that never perturbed her. Many times we see comedy scenes like these sandwiched between layers of tragedy. The main road to the housing area had been dug up on one side, for about 100 metres. This was to drain the water out from the housing area, to a point, and from there it was to be pumped into the main drain, the top of which had been opened up by digging up one side of the main road. All this was a sight..a real pathetic sight.
My father and sister had already gone back to our home after cleaning up the ground floor and getting all the furniture, appliances and other things back into their places. It had taken about six days for the water to be pumped out by the administration, out of the housing area. My friend Magesh was my rain consultant and he gave me fairly accurate indications for the next three days at any time. It really helped me plan and take evasive action. Magesh had warned me about the possibility of another BIG rain and so I had tried my best to dissuade my father and sister from going back. But they did not relent. In fact we had arguments and finally I had to give in. We had damages on the doors, cupboards and furniture at our home. The smell of the flood water still remained, in spite of all the cleaning that was done with lysol and other solutions. After a few days, we tried burning frankincense and that really helped to a big extent, but still, the strange smell wafted out of the rooms whenever the breeze blew.
As we got closer to the main road, I called my driver and asked him to wait beyond the point where the traffic started, so that he would not get stranded getting into the traffic while coming to pick us up. So, we planned to take an autorickshaw to reach that point. We walked forward and met driver sharks who told us their exhorbitant rate of Rs.350 for a drive of hardly two kilometres. We tried negotiations, like two drenched crows, wet all over and desperate to get back to our nests. Having no other choice, we relented and got in and with the rain taking off with another heavy stint, we moved ahead and inched through the traffic. It was about 10.30 pm when I spotted my car. I dropped Magesh at a point close to his home and then we made our way to the make shift place. This encounter with an aggressive Mother Nature and with a friend who was always by my side, is something that will remain etched in my mind, forever.
You may read the next in sequence at: