For Shantakumari, the tsunami changed her philosophy on life. She once gave up on her ambition to pursue research: dissuaded by her parents who thought it was better for her to marry and settle down. After seeing the widespread devastation, the wife of a fisherman gave a new life to her academic ambitions.
"I've learned that anything can happen anytime. Today we sleep (peacefully), when we die cannot be decided," she said.
In the tsunami, Shantakumari and her family lost their home, although they were fortunate enough to lose anyone to the calamity.
On December 26 ten years ago, she recalled, all she could think of was saving the data she had collected for her thesis. "I wanted to hand it over to the government so that at least someone could make use of it in the future," she said, referring to her study of fishermen communities in Nagapattinam and Cuddalore.
She now teaches Tamil at the AVC College as an assistant professor.
VIDEO: 'Tsunami taught us that any kind of change is possible'