My lovely city Chennai and its neighbouring towns, battered by rains like never before. We have been brought down to our knees, by the fury of Nature! Thousands rendered homeless, hundreds of deaths, painful loss of property and business due to unrelenting rain since December 1.
I shall refrain from giving statistics or posting pictures, there is Google for that. I am praying and I want all of you to pray for my city and its neighbourhood as I hear there is more impending rain. Please pray that we are spared the aftermath of epidemics that is looming large in our faces. Our city of 7 million is sub-merged.
We, Chennai-earlier-called-Madras, are at 13.04°N 80.17°E on the southeast coast of India and in the northeast corner of Tamil Nadu, on a flat coastal plain known as the Eastern Coastal Plains. We stand at an average elevation of 6 metres (20 ft), the highest point being 60 m (200 ft).
We are a peace-loving people. We are highly spiritual. We are culturally rich and knowledge-hungry. We are a tolerant state. We are much less communal, rather hardly. We are givers, yet being punished for something we cant figure out.
Our city stands devastated, but our spirit remains unhindered. Rains have lashed cruelly, wiped away peoples’ homes and belongings, forcing inmates to move to higher floors of apartments and some on to the terraces. Rich nor poor, young nor old have been spared. Open terraces, wet and cold have been the only shelter to some, till being rescued by The National Disaster Rescue Force and citizens alike. Some of us have learnt to live without electricity, wi-fi, water and cellular networks for close to 96 hours, marooned and distraught with meagre food supplies. Reservoirs have brimmed over and rivers have swelled, nay, have taken over the city. There are no roads left in some parts of the city, they have been converted to waterways. We taxied our people to safety in boats, but we did not lose our sense of humour amidst the adversity. We likened our city to Venice and took pictures. Our airport has remained shut from December 2 till a few hours ago. Our railway tracks have remain hidden. We hope to bring them back to normalcy soon.
But we are resilient, true to the spirit we are known for. We will bounce back. Our people have risen to the occasion with single minded focus of rehabilitating those who have lost a roof over their heads. We have opened our homes to shelter the homeless. I am not even bringing in religion here, for at times such as these, we know only one religion, that of humanity. Our shopping malls and cinema halls suspended their shows for a while and made room for the cold and shivering to spend the night. So did the places of worship of every faith. Our citizens have strengthened the hands of the state machinery in relief work like nowhere else. The rains have been truly merciless, a situation no government can probably deal with all by itself. No government, no state could have been equipped to handle a calamity of this magnitude. But we stand united. Our volunteers for relief work round the clock are our warriors, they are young, very young, they are old, very old, but have come out in numbers that are overwhelming. Relief materials have poured in generously, from neighbouring states too, but is it enough? The task ahead is herculean. That of providing home and work to those that have lost all. That of cleaning up the city and restoring it to its glory.
But what hurts us most is that the rain clouds still seem to be intent on pouring themselves out on our city! Why do you hover so menacingly over our heads? Please leave, dissipate. I am not asking you to move elsewhere, but just dissolve into nothingness. There has been enough destruction, spare us from more. Allow us to rebuild and rehabilitate. Give us some sunshine, give us hope, give us strength.