Friday, March 22, 2019

Life on the slow track - Musings aboard the NH49

A resplendent morning with a slightly overcast sky is pregnant with numerous possibilities.  It could be a bright sunny day, but it could possibly be a rainy day too.       
It was the year when the memories were still fresh of the fury and torment of the south west monsoons that had wreaked havoc along the Malabar coast. Life was slowly limping back to normalcy. 

Aid agencies pumped up with donations from generous donors from the world over, volunteers wishing to serve on the ground and most importantly the proud people of Kerala, humbled by nature’s fury were putting their best efforts to return to near normalcy.  

It was that time when the surviving victims were putting the memories behind and picking up the threads to move on with their lives.  

The weathermen have now begun to be extra cautious with their forecasts because they know there are more eyeballs focused on them than on the prime-time television soap operas.  The monsoon season is not yet over and although they say lightning seldom strikes twice, nobody could afford to take chances.    A passing cloud could become a deluge and a high tide in the ocean could result in water logging in the plains.    

It is just a few weeks since the floods. The furious monsoons have abated. The air force, army and the and aid agencies that descended down for the rescue operations have wound up and returned back home. It is now the time for government and people to pick up the ropes and act.  The pot holed roads ravaged by the floods have been re-laid in a flash.  The trash that now contains, once functional refrigerators, television sets, furniture, mattresses and wardrobes are getting burnt or recycled.   

People cutting across political affiliations have gathered up to ensure the roadways and railways are cleared up and are in working condition.  They are the lifelines for connectivity across small towns that were crippled by the floods. Everyone knows that their collective effort in these times would restore normalcy in their lives. People realize that it is going to be a lot of back breaking work, however it must be done. 

Where there should have been greenery, it is all brown patches of dried up banana trees and colocasia shrubs that were submerged in the floods for longer than they could sustain themselves.  Landslides, uprooted trees, walls of mud huts with thatched roofs dissolved into the clay along the river banks and decomposed carcasses of dead cattle and livestock.  They have all altered the geographical and economic landscape that an entire generation had got accustomed to. 

Such is the course of nature, reminisced the wise and elderly.  ‘Mother nature’s patience level had been breached’ they cried hoarse. ‘They had seen more furious monsoons in their life time, but this one was a disaster waiting to happen’, they said. Rampant concrete constructions that came with development and defied local wisdom of rain water harvesting and blocked the natural path of rain water flow along the lake sides, on the ponds and river beds. They said that was the reason for the wreckage caused by what would otherwise have been a season that saw a slightly above average but manageable monsoon.  

‘It is the wrath of that celibate fellow from up the hills let loose on the menstruating women’, some said.

‘It is the El Nino’s southern oscillations and its unpredictability’, cried out the weather scientists. 

Callous Governments and corrupt town planners were nevertheless blamed. 

On the brighter side, the collective consciousness had risen and the lesson was learnt.  Once in a few decades, nature has its way of revising the fundamental lessons and remind the mortal humans of their limitations. This year was once such year.

No matter what, traumas heal, hope triumphs and life moves on.     
It is yet another dawn waiting to break along the NH49. The sun, oblivious to the happenings along the Malabar coast this season, is announcing its arrival of yet another day.  The sky is blushing pink in various hues and colors.  

The brain fever bird perched atop the Gulmohar tree is screeching as if it picked up a sore throat in the heavy rains.  The rooster is cooing announcing the arrival of the day.

The fitness freaks have set out on their morning walks, perhaps the first one after many weeks.
The mosque is blaring on the loudspeaker its morning call for the aazaan and beckoning the faithful.
Competing with the loud speakers from the mosque is the loud rhythm of the drum beats from the nearby temple.  Festivities although considerably subdued, are on the way. As the day progresses, the devotees would throng the temple to pray for better days and a brighter future.  Hope sustains human kind.  The worst is perhaps behind them and this is the time to rebuild and rejuvenate.

Driving along the freshly laid out road along the NH 49 is a pleasure.  It is a two-lane state highway that has been christened as the National highway 49. When travelling across Kerala, it feels like the town hardly ends to give way to the country side.  Equally marveling is that the resplendent greenery is always peppered along the towns and across those quaint houses and tree lined streets. 

Ostentatiously huge houses built from the money earned out of hard labour and loneliness and sent home from the oil rich countries in the gulf dot the National highway nestled amidst coconut groves and pepper plantations, lightly camouflaged by the girth of huge flowering trees. 

Occasionally there are empty plots of land where colocasia shrubs whose roots would have made a sumptuous meal after the monsoons, are struggling to sprout and come to life after being submerged in the devastating floods.  The lingering sunshine from the morning sun is perhaps giving the much-needed hope and energy for the few that have held on to life.  Amidst the dried-up brown and dry colocasia shrubs are a few green shoots sprouting from the roots.  

On a tender colocasia leaf is a rain drop dancing like a ball of mercury that has dropped from a broken thermometer.

...To be continued ... Musings Aboard the NH49 - Chaya kadai 

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