What would I consider as luxury? What would I celebrate? What would I classify as a moment of great joy? What would call as a divine blessing? Today, my answers to these questions are completely different from the ones that I had in my mind until a few days ago.
A twenty four hour period of continuous and very heavy rains between December 1 and 2, created an urban deluge that started submerging one locality after another in Chennai. All my family had were just the essentials, the bare minimum to carry on with our day to day activities. And yet, this bare minimum seemed at that moment and even now like ultimate luxuries for which I am very grateful to God.
I do not remember previous instance when there was no power in my house for two days at a stretch. Yet I was grateful that the rain water had collected only in my street and did not enter my apartment complex. The excess water let out from one of Chennai’s reservoirs was causing havoc at localities barely a couple of kilometers from my house. Army and NDRF were using boats and every other possible means to evacuate people from these areas. Though there was no power in my street and the mosquitoes were troubling us, we were safe and had the luxury of a good night’s sleep.
There was no power, no TV, no internet and slowly the mobile battery too ran out. The waterlogging in my street made it nearly impossible to go outside. As a result I spent most of the two days playing and interacting with my daughter. In those two days I should have played and interacted with my daughter more than I would have done in an average fortnight. And my interaction level with my wife, parents and neighbors increased significantly during those two days.
In that time of despair, a bunch of kids in my apartment complex found reason to play and rejoice. When the rain stopped on the third morning and the common area in my apartment complex was dry enough, I and my daughter walked from one gate to another. I also saw my neighbors either interacting with or playing with their kids.
In a city where the weather is hot and humid for most of the year, I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of a day when I would rejoice at the sight of the sun. And yet when the rains stopped and the sun appeared only for a brief period, I expressed my joy by shouting like a child. Thankfully from that moment, though the sun has been playing hide and seek the rains have stopped.
By the third evening, with the power still not back, we left to my eldest sister’s house in another locality. It was still raining at the time of dinner and we were all sick and tired of seeing more than a month of rain breaking one record after another as well exposing the limits of our city’s infrastructure. Though the environment was pale and gloomy, my daughter on seeing her aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousin having dinner with her described, ‘I am very happy. We are all having dinner together.’ I guess she was absolutely right. What mattered was that we were all together and we were safe. Everything else that we counted as the necessities of modern life seemed superficial and redundant. I thank God for providing me this moment/ opportunity to reflect on what is important in life. I hope and pray that the people whose life had been thrown out of gear and traumatized by this monstrous downpour find the courage and help needed to reconstruct their life.