By Stalin Soosa Rathinam
Tsunami created chaos and pain in the minds of children in the coastal regions of Tamilnadu, but two years after the Tsunami, the same children are coming back to their normal life with great mental strength, vision and dreams about their future. They were supported strongly by Caritas India’s diocesan partners.
Vignesh, 7th standard student in Arcatuthurai Government High School, explains his experiencing the tsunami and how he overcame the situation. 13-year-old Vignesh, son of Veeramni and Bhavani, of Colony Street at Arcatuthurai in Nagapattinam, lost his grandfather Sinkaraveil in the tsunami. This loss meant a big trauma for him as he was very much fond of him.
Sinkaraveil took Vignesh whenever there was a festival or carneval in the town; he spent most of his time with his grandson. With tears in his eyes, Vignesh is recalling his memories: “When my Grandpa was with me, I was very happy. He took me wherever he went and bought me a lot of toys, sweets and whatever I asked for. He never said no to me. He used to take me to the seashore on week-ends and when he mended his nets, I was allowed to sit with him.On the day when tsunami struck, we went to the seashore, but after some time my uncle came there and took me back home. Now the only thing always worrying me is that I couldn’t be with him when tsunami took him.”
After his uncle zaling him back home, Vignesh could not resist the temptation of going out again and looking for his Grandfather. “I proceeded to the shore again”, he says, “to see my Grandpa. On the way, I saw the high waves rushing towards me. I saw the ruined Koodams (sheds built near the seashore to store fishing materials) and broken boats carried by the waves. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I turned and started to run, but unfortunately, I got struck in the waves. Then I got hold of a floating tree and escaped.”
After the tsunami, Vignesh never went near the seashore again to play. Moreover, he doesn’t like to go out with others, too. Charles, community-organizer of Thanjavur Social Service Scoiety (TMSSS), helped him a lot to overcome the pain. “After Grandpa’s death I didn’t like to go near the seashore. Actually, I was really afraid to go there. Then Charles’ uncle from TMSSS used to meet me and told me: ‘Don’t be afraid of the sea, nothing will happen again. These things happen once in a lifetime, so be bold’. Those words gave me more courage, but still I don’t feel like going to the seashore because I always use to think: Sea mother gave us lot of fish and gave us life but, on the other hand, she took back everything she gave”.
The experience of tsunami shaped Vignesh’s life. The gradual overcoming of his trauma Now Vignesh gave him new hope I a new future and a clear picture of what he wants to become, even though he is very young to materialize his dreams. He wants to be a good doctor in the future who shows love and care to people who are going to approach him. “I want to be a very good doctor and work in a government hospital in my place and provide my service to all the people in need. Many doctors in the government’s hospitals are not treating the poor people well. They are not giving them good medicine and are not behaving well at all. Nowadays, different types of new diseases have come up and poor people are not treated properly by doctors in order to be healed. So this is the gap that I want to fill.”