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My Memories Of The Chennai Floods Are As Heartwarming As They Are Harrowing

01/12/2016 11:47 PM IST | Updated 08/12/2016 4:13 PM IST

The 1st of December marked a year since the incessant rains in Chennai that lasted days and led to the unforgettable flooding that caused many to flee their homes in the wee hours of the morning.

Personally, it was an unforgettable time for me too—waiting seemed to be the order of the night and most of next day.

I waited restlessly for a train to reach Chennai.

Then I waited for the rains to stop, so a loved one could reach us safely from the railway station.

And when it did stop, I waited breathlessly for my husband to return after picking her up.

Soon after their almost-safe return, the flooding started.

It is so much easier to handle a situation—however bad—if you keep your cool. My street was full of cheerful camaraderie that morning. It made a difference.

Then I waited for the water to rise.

Early morning saw us waiting for a boat.

Once my son and I reached safe ground, it was a harrowingly long wait for my husband to reach our side.

At the end of that day, I said a silent prayer of thanks that after all that trauma, we were all together again. Safe and sound. And that's all that mattered.

Within a few months, all of us bounced back to normalcy. We returned to our homes, got new cars, repainted the houses, bought new furniture, went back to work again...

The nightmarish morning soon became a distant memory.

But today, just thinking about the date opens a floodgate of memories. Not just the panic, but also the kindness I experienced from the people around me.

I remember the kind people who stood by us throughout that fateful experience with so much compassion.

My kind neighbour who served us all a hot cuppa that chaotic morning...

The gang of coast guards who risked their lives so many times, tirelessly, to enter into our street on a rickety motor boat, braving the strong river current to rescue scores of people...

The police officers who systematically controlled the evacuation with their amazing organising skills...

The kind man who opened his gate and welcomed us all to use his garage when we landed on dry land to wait for the rest of our families...

A kind friend who called me hundred times to say he'd booked a hotel room for my family and if we needed transport to get there...

The people on the adjoining dry streets who jumped on to the boats without a thought for their own safety, just to help us...

And after a few days, stories of selflessness and bravery poured in.

Hundreds of youngsters distributing food and clothes to the new homeless...

Kind people cooking tonnes of food in their kitchens to distribute to the people who were trapped inside their own homes...

People saving stray dogs from drowning...

Samaritans from all over the country and even abroad sending whatever they could...

All we need is each other. Anything else can be bought.

The generosity and resilience of the human spirit shone brilliantly through this calamity.

As for me, the traumatic experience taught me many unforgettable lessons.

First, the world is full of great people with large hearts.

Secondly, it is so much easier to handle a situation—however bad—if you keep your cool. My street was full of cheerful camaraderie that morning. It made a difference.

And finally, all we need is each other. Anything else can be bought.

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