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Demons roar over carol strain

Carols can still be heard above the roar of the waves in Car Nicobar, but Christmas has given place to a commemoration of tragedy.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2005 04:22 IST

Carols can still be heard above the roar of the waves in Car Nicobar, but Christmas has given place to a commemoration of tragedy.

There is a sense among the tsunami survivors here that a visit to the church alone cannot exorcise the ghosts of the disaster that has twisted their lives out of recognition. For that, they need to face the demons of the past by observing the first anniversary of the killer waves.

The annual boat race — a fixture on every Christmas — has been scrapped as most people have not got the boats they were promised. "A lot of people in the islands are not going to celebrate Christmas as they are grieving for the ones they lost. Some don't are yet to get their own houses ," says 43-year-old Helifix. Agrees co-worker Philip. "No one is in the mood for celebrations."

So, on Christmas, some will spend pensive hours in churches or work hard to get everything in order before VIPs troop in on Monday to mark the anniversary of tsunami.

The Tsunami Memorial, will be inaugurated by Minister of State (Home) Reghupathy.

Like many Nicobari people, Helifix and Philip work for the local government and are busy working for the memorial.

"There are a lot of things to be done. Pictures have to be placed in order and the road needs to be cleared," he says.

The idea of the memorial came from the tribals themselves. "The community wanted a memorial made so that future generations know of the disasters their forefathers witnessed," says Vivek Porwal, deputy commissioner, Nicobar district.

After all, as survivors will tell you, memories can torment as well as heal.

First Published: Dec 25, 2005 02:17 IST