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Life goes on

Memories abounded but there was no hangover of fear, writes GC Shekhar. Tell us your experiences | In pics

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 12:26 IST

Memories abounded but there was no hangover of fear on the first anniversary of tsunami. On the Marina Beach, from where the world came to know about the killer waves hitting Tamil Nadu, and the 2 km stretch southwards along the fishermen's tenements life went on unhindered. And even the sea appeared tranquil.

Only the black-bordered posters or small pandals with a photograph and lamp in front gave any indication that it was on this day last year that the sea had lost its innocence. At Sreenivasapuram, 60-year old Krishnan sat in front of a huge banner that mourned the tsunami victims through a collage of pictures of their tragedy. The banner put up by some local youth soon had a five-foot-tall candle burning in silent homage.

Krishnan showed copies of his family's ration card and the death certificate of his wife Sulochana who was flung more than 300 metres away as she was selling fish on the beach. "I stopped fishing from that day. The money I got as compensation has been spent in marrying off my three sons," said Krishnan, who does odd jobs to survive.

At Sreenivasapuram, where at least 60 people were killed the shattered remnants of the fishermen’s houses remain the same way and most of the residents continue to live in temporary shelters. More pathetic is the condition of fishermen of Kargil and Kannagi Nagars in north Chennai. Their temporary homes were initially gutted down by fire and later the reconstructed ones became useless following massive inundation during the recent floods. But a revenue official assured them that their permanent houses were under construction and should be ready in another five months

Near the lighthouse, Ponnammal is busy drying yesterday's catch on the sand. "Of course, I know what day is today but then work has to go on. The men folk have taken a holiday to mourn, which would be another excuse to get drunk," she quipped, continuing with her work.

Meanwhile, a bunch of school children came in a small procession, holding placards which screamed social messages along with one mourning the victims.

The most notable absentees were the politicians, considering they were the first to rush in and hog the limelight in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.

"Good they stayed away. At least, we can mourn in peace," said Arivazhagan, (he had lost his wife and children except for his 10-month-old daughter whom he held on to) as he gazed at the workers removing trash from the sands.