–Tanya Mary, II B.A. English
Kerala, a state well accustomed to rains and whose main attraction is its climate, faced a disaster which most current generation Malayalees would have never experienced before. This year, Keralaites were taken aback by the torrential rainfall which caused flash floods (pralayam) in many areas.
The flash floods were majorly caused due to the release of water from the dams rather than just the sheer magnitude of rain. People who live along the banks of lakes and rivers are not unfamiliar with water levels rising and entering their houses but this is the first time that the rainwater had reached so far inland. It even affected major cities like Kochi, sweeping them all off their sense of reality.
The sight of catamarans, rafts and boats traversing the roads, the completely submerged inland houses, the floating carcasses of animals, etc. were indeed sights that scared the living daylights out of the millions of Malayalees living outside Kerala. It sent them all into a panic mode as they worried about their friends and relatives living in Kerala. Mobile phones could not be reached as the people hadn’t charged their phones and were not quite prepared for the continuous power outage that lasted for days. Thousands of people had to be evacuated and moved to relief camps.
Malayalees all over the world showcased their unity, their spontaneity, their undemanding love and support for their fellow countrymen; setting apart all their differences. Even the political parties did not blame each other or cash in on this predicament as all of them were worried about their state and worked together as a team for the welfare of their naadu. The media also did a very commendable job in this case. They did not try to increase their TRP rating by only showing the worst affected areas and playing sad music but served as a tool to reach out to the masses by continuously broadcasting helpful information, contact numbers and was an important link between the help-providers and help-seekers.
Social media was put to the best possible use by providing and sharing information at almost lightning speed. There was a lot of fake news doing the rounds but channels like Manorama News and Asianet News crosschecked the news items and debunked any wrong information. Many Malayalee actors, singers and other celebrities used their large fan base to share important information and actively participated in the rescue operations.
The help rendered by the Armed forces was really laudable. But the real heroes were the common folk who did not wait for anyone to offer help. Most able-bodied men and women were directly involved in the rescue work without expecting anything in return. They did this because they could not bear the sight of their fellowmen and women suffering and wanted to reach out and help instead of staying back and watching the ordeal.
This year’s Onam celebrated the ability of humanity to transcend all differences and help out during the time of disaster. I would like to quote a slogan that has been doing the rounds now, “Kerala is not only God’s own country but it is also the country of Gods.”
Each person who helped is a God who saved lives.