Monday, December 27, 2004

Swept Away..

You are sitting in your home close to the shore. Your family makes its living by the sea, for generations. You could be cooking, taking care of children. You could be preparing to work in one of the resorts. It is early. There might be several generations living in this house with you, grandparents, parents, children. The sound begins like a hissing, you think it is just a car or the wind. It then begins to sound like a growl, then a rumble. Then a roar..As your world explodes around you. A wall of water hits your fragile home. You get tumbled into debris and are hitting things as you are flung inland. You're in darkness till your head clears water. You don't recognize where you are. Wood, steel, and the remains of many homes float around you. You are being pummeled by what is floating around you. A hand floats amongst the wreckage, you grab it to realize it is a family member. You try to hang on but the surging water tears it away. You grab onto a tree as the water recedes back to the shore. Pulling as hard as you can, you manage to pull yourself onto some branches, out of the danger. For the first time you see, truly see what has happened. Houses, places that have always been there your whole life-gone. Wreckage, piled on top of each other, scattered around you. Then you start to see what else lies in the debris: bodies. Hundreds it seems, so many tangled arms and limbs and torsos. Faces can sometimes be seen, most are battered and cut.
You recognize some, none are family that you can tell. You find it hard to breathe. There is pain all over. Ribs and limbs probably are broken. But you are alive, and in the following days you wish you were not.
The day after the bodies start to pile up. It is hot, and the smell begins. There is no electricity, food or fresh water. Corpses float on shore like seaweed, and will do so for weeks. There is always the fear of another great wave with every tide. You work to help carry the bodies, hoping to find your family. You might find one, the rest may never be found. The survivors start to get sick from the lack of clean water, and from the rot of bodies. The government is overwhelmed. It is a poor place you live. All you can think about is survival, and the essential questions. Why you? Why them? Now what?