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Trauma returns in waves

The trauma haunts. And images of death and destruction that have left behind indelible scars.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2006 12:06 IST
Shreevatsa Nevatia
Shreevatsa Nevatia

The trauma haunts. Bringing back waves after waves of memories. And images of death and destruction that have left behind indelible scars.

The beach at Akkraipettai village in Nagapattinam wears a forlorn look. The children have stopped playing. Eleven- year-old Saranya refuses to look up from the clay she is moulding at the Akkraipettai government school. The Class V student mutters under her breath, "I don't play with sand anymore because I don't go to the sea. I am scared."

Almost a year after the tsunami lashed the coast and washed away people, homes and hope, numbers cite that 6,065 people died and 20,000 houses destroyed in Nagapattinam. Making it perhaps India's worst-affected state.

But life moves on. A year later, there are signs of change. Across the road at the Village Knowledge Centre, there are six computers in rooms separated by tin sheets. Vijay, another 11year-old, is immersed in a computer game. "Even if I go to the beach, I do not play. You never know, the tsunami might come anytime." Like Vijay, there are many children who have shifted their playground from beaches to PlayStation, thanks to the Knowledge Centre, a joint initiative by two NGOs, the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and the Tata Relief Committee.

The centre, which started on March 3, has games and educational CDs provided by the Azim Premji Foundation. It trains villagers in computers.

Akheela, a volunteer at the centre, says, "Many people come here but children are our regular visitors." Plans are on for a new, permanent building. The government higher secondary school, which is in a shambles, has got a new building and computers.

George Abraham Lincoln, headmaster-in-charge, says, "We have 13 new classrooms and two labs." Before the tsunami, the school had a computer training group but no computers. Now the school has four computers donated by a US organisation. The NGOs that landed post tsunami thankfully didn't stop at computers. They also helped teachers counsel the students.

And it paid off. Madhavan, a 13-year-old student, doesn't run for cover anymore when his friends shout that the waves are coming. Soon, perhaps, Saranya too will run to the beach and make castles in the sand.

First Published: Dec 19, 2005 09:18 IST