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Battered yet brave A&N Islands celebrate Xmas

It is a solemn Christmas in the archipelago but some brave hearts are willing to bury the tragic memories.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2005 03:21 IST
Subhra Priyadarshini (PTI)
Subhra Priyadarshini (PTI)

It is a solemn Christmas in Andaman and Nicobar archipelago on Sunday but some brave hearts are willing to bury the tragic memories of last year's tsunami to get on with life and celebrations.

Like brave little Almas Javed, the eleven-year old who had been to the tiny Nancowry Islands for the Christmas holidays with her parents and younger sister last year but came back all alone clinging on to a piece of log for dear life.

She doesn't want to talk of the tragedy which has changed her life totally. However, she clings to the memory of her mother's cooking and father's words which, she says, prod her to face life with courage.

"I wish they were here today. But their absence does not mean I am losing heart or cowing down. I want to make their dreams come true," Almas, who lives with her grandparents in Port Blair, says exuding maturity beyond her years.

Church bells chimed at midnight ushering in the Yuletide season and the departed were fondly remembered in masses held in the islands.

"This is life. Not the same every day, every year," Shantamma, who isn't bitter even after loosing three sons and her husband to the waves, said lighting a candle at the Church of Northern India in Port Blair.

Outside the colourfully lit church, Jose and his friends were tuning their guitars getting ready for endless bonfires and parties lined up till New Year.

Hundreds of Nicobarese tribals gathered in a neighbouring Church dressed in their finery way before midnight. The mood was needless to say upbeat.

"We got new dressed and bangles. This time we are going to be have a good New Year bash because their is no tsunami," sixteen-year-old Jaoli, who got her gown stitched from the best seamstress in town, said.

In a small sitting area painted while on an uphill road, Brother Luke D Moses of the Pentecostal Mission was holding a sermon when the subject of tsunami crept in.

"We lost three of our ministers - two brothers and a sister - to the tsunami in the Southern Islands. But as we all believe, everything happens with the will of the Lord. We are not getting overwhelmed by the tsunami at all," he said.

First Published: Dec 25, 2005 02:17 IST