I sit here on my sofa, Laddu sitting and ‘reading’ a book by my side. I have been glued to news, Facebook feed and Twitter for over 36 hours. I watch the city that was my home for a few years get innundated with water. Unprecedented rainfall. Lakes that are breached. Reservoirs that let out water for safety. Bridges that have a foot or more of water over them. Submerged, floating cars. Waves along the runway at the airport. The images are surreal.
Had these images been of elsewhere in the world, I would have sighed, changed my profile picture in solidarity, updated my status to read “Prayers for…” and signed off. But, this was a place I grew up in, went to school and worked in. This is a place where there is personal history. This is Chennai. The roads I see underwater are places I have once walked. The houses with water lapping up the first level are places that mean something to me.
So, I sit and scour the internet, relay information back and forth. I haunt twitter obsessively, copy paste what I think is relevant information. I look for groups banding together to help Chennai. I itch to be useful. To do something. Anything.
It strikes me how useless sending mo ney at a juncture like this is. The need of the hour is foot soldiers. People willing to wade in chest deep waters to rescue, provide relief and help. I watch in awe as people all over set up control rooms, dispatch volunteers to places where help is needed. I watch as families open up their homes to wet, hungry strangers. I watch as men and women prepare hot meals for the hundreds that need food.
I scan the papers and realize not much mention of a city that is in chaos. No media frenzy, no calls for relief. It hits me at many levels. I feel the overwhelming sadness that I have been holding back.
Everywhere I look there are people looking for information on relatives, the distance and lack of communication compounding things. I worry about my friends who are unreachable. I sigh with relief as yet another marks himself safe.
I know this will pass. The waters will drain. The city will rebuild itself. The noise on social media will die down. And we will shake our heads and remember the great flood of 2015.
Until the next adversity strikes.