Thursday, March 10, 2016


This article comprises of a series of four posts. This is the final post. It begins with

We could not hold on for long at our makeshift place, leaving my father and sister at our home. Panic, banging on the thresholds of paranoia filled within us. We were not sure if the bore and sump water was contaminated as the authorities and the television news, did mention about sewage having leaked out and mixed with the water supply in a few places in our area. Magesh kept dissuading me from going back to my home and wanted me to talk to my father and sister to get them back to the makeshift place as the next BIG rain was coming.  The building had taken a huge brunt of the rain and the walls were all having wet patches. The very thought of school and having to operate from the make shift place for the same, which was at least 12 kilometres more by car and my daughter having to be alone post school time at the makeshift place, till either me or my wife came back from work, made us take a decision to move back to home. Necessities many times force us to take decisions which really may not be the best ones.

We moved back on Nov 25th which was a working day, in the evening. We had to spend hours on cleaning of the first floor including that of the refrigerator and the cupboards, before we could start life. It really took time. I was really scared of my daughter's health as her immunity had always been low. So we had to be careful about the water being used. The sump was fully contaminated and we had decided not to venture into cleaning it until all the rains were done. The bore water was what was being pumped up to the overhead tank and that had a very distinct smell and a light yellow colour too. My father and sister had already started using it. Cooking and drinking was of course with the canned water, but the bore water was being used for everything else. Me and my sister, spent about 5 hours, pumping out the water from the bore, until 2 a.m. in the morning. The water had seemed to be getting better then.

Sickness slowly found its way in. My father who was mostly confined to bed with liver cirrhosis, was the first to get high bouts of fever and next was my sister, but with anti-biotics, they got back to normal. I had decided not to venture out and to just work out of my make shift place, after the November 23rd road adventure and now I continued in that mode out of home. By the time we hit the weekend, my daughter fell sick and I too went into the same mode with diarrhea and vomiting. We had to spend some time at a hospital's emergency wing and then a day at a ward, before we got back home. Mahesh had called me up while at the hospital and told me to move out as soon as I reached home, back to the make shift place, as the BIG rain was coming and that it was really unsafe to be at our home.We had a real paranoia now for the types of water we used. The following Monday morning which was December 6th, the sky looked ominous.

The rain started and I called up Jeeva uncle, one of my family friends, to get help to clean our overhead tank once again, as lot of dirt had settled in its walls and base and it was showing up in the water flowing down from it. The several attempts at cleaning done earlier was probably not enough. He came with two men and they started cleaning the tank. Heavy rain started and my wife had just left for work. He advised me to leave the place and go to Ayanavaram. I took his help to convince my father and sister and we quickly decided to move out this time. We had the time to take all we want  and the time to pack, as the rain water was yet to rise on the road or within our home, and we could take out both our cars.

We left before afternoon and the rain was pouring down as we drove. It was difficult to drive as the visibility was poor and the roads were full of huge pot holes. We reached the make shift place and resumed our stay again. We were continuously viewing the television to get updates. The next day's rain hit South Chennai mercilessly and several reservoirs had to be opened with no notice at all. The city's total landscape changed and most of the places were inundated unlike the first bout where only some low lying places like ours were under water. There were places now where even the first floor was under water and this time the water there was pretty aggressive with strong currents. Our neighbours informed us that water had got in after we had left our home. We were pretty lucky that the water was seemingly still and just under the knee level. During the previous big bout, the people at Ayanavaram had been confident that water would never invade them, but with the rains ravaging at this rate, even their confidence was shaken now. However, the place still remained dry and the canal was still in full cry.

My hunt for food and water continued. The mobile recharges at shops were all down as the network towers of many providers were in bad shape due to the rains. The supply of canned water was getting choked in the different shops that I tried. I kind of got desperate at one point and entered a Nilgiris super market. My eyes scanned the 2 litres bottled water cartons having ten in each. In one flash decision, I wiped clean all the 6 cartons that were there and loaded them into my car. It cost me a bomb, but I had actually bought some peace for my mind with that. So long as the canned water was there, the bottled water was kept intact and used only for my daughter. While at the super market on the first day, where I had grabbed bottled water, I had also grabbed noodle packets. The second day, the noodle shelf was empty. Milk was never there and every other day when I went there, biscuits, cakes and other bakery items slowly disappeared one after the other. It was an alarming situation as we did not know what the weather had in store, to offer next. I noticed that people from ten or fifteen kilometres away, were coming to Ayanavaram to buy medicines as their places were all under water.

My wife had no option but to go for work at the hospital after being at the make shift place for a few days. A van picked her up from there and I packed water and some food for her anticipating that she would not be able to get back from the hospital, as no one would come to relieve her. She had to stay for two days at the workspot, just as I had anticipated. I continued to work from the make shift place. My sleep was less through the nights as I kept vigil, often looking out at the garden outside, to see if water had invaded.

The rains continued their decree with the same merciless and domineering demeanour. We prayed like we had never ever prayed before. The rains stopped some time in the second week of December. My father and sister returned home first and all the cleaning had to be done all over again. We moved in just before Christmas and had a very simple Yuletide celebration. We had missed out retrieving a huge collection of photographs from the lower pane of our wooden shelf. The whole bunch had got soaked in water and I found it difficult to come to terms with the damages on those fine memories. 

Peeping out of the windows, we almost had the same feel of seeing the Christmas snow as bleaching powder was all over the place. The administration did a good job of ensuring that bleaching powder was put at all places. Psalms 23 says "He led us beside the still waters", but I believe God led us into the still waters, gave us an experience and then led us safely through it too. We are thankful to God for having led us through the still waters.

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