My phone buzzes early next morning.I am immediately summoned to the site as the relief camps had been hit by the flood water the night before. Several causalities had been reported.
I wake Sudeep up and make him aware. He decides to come with me.
It is all chaos in Dumrao. I see the primal instinct of survival in humans in front of me but the humane relationships are still intact. A father is carrying his daughter on his head walking in chest deep water, a husband is holding the hand of his wife firmly in chest deep water, a boy is hugging his mother tightly in chest deep water; all trying to fight for a place on the life boat.
“All the best. ” Sudeep whispers in my ear.
I have been assigned to keep the rescue running, transferring people to safer camp sites. I lead the band of workers, sending the healthy people to camps and those requiring medical attention to the civil hospital. In the middle of it all, I try to keep the media away from causing disruption in our work.Kartik arrives on the dry land with a batch of locals in a boat. He is dripping in his own sweat. I greet him while Sudeep is helping away. I decide not to introduce the two to each other.One crisis at a time.
I decide to go on the next life boat to the flooded area to fetch the last batch of stranded people. It isn’t far from the dry land. As the boat chugs away, I can see Sudeep shouting for a stretcher; a boy has his leg bleeding. I can see Kartik racing from place to another, bringing calmness in the chaos. And then I turn away.
We, workers reach the site and everyone rushes to the boat ; instinct of survival at work. We try to appease and accommodate them at the same moment. But everyone wants to be rescued first. In the midst of the bedlam a baby falls off into the gushing muddy water . It disappears into the depths with each cry of his mother. I jump into the waters without a thought. Mud clouds my vision underwater but I am able to hold my breath. I find him and come up. The mother doesn’t wait for me to come on the boat and quickly hugs her child away.
I try to get on the boat. An electric pole falls into the water with a thud some distance away.I look into that direction like everyone else.
In a split second I feel my skin melting . My heart slows down. I can still hear the distant cries when I surrender to the profundity of the water.
I don’t need to make a choice anymore. Did I ever even need to? I had been yours all this while.Rana.