Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, November 22, 2007


As you are all no doubt aware, on the night of the 15h of November, the cyclone Sidr hit my South-western coastline. The 250000sq.km wrath of nature passed right over my 144570sq.km body and disappeared near my North-eastern border in the early morning hours of the 16th, wreaking havoc everywhere it went.

It was sudden. I wasn't prepared, I wasn't ready. I came to know of Sidr's arc-like motion only the day before it hit. I braced myself as best as I could. As you humans scattered for your cyclone shelters, the trees and I faced the oncoming storm.

But the attack was vicious beyond my imagination. Sidr came at night and swept away our defenses. The South-western coastal regions are flat lands. There was nothing there to stop it; nothing except the Sundarbans. The trees fought valiantly, but what can an already weakened forest do against such an enemy? Sidr means eye in Sinhalese, and the eye of it towered over Sundarban for a while, crushing its opposition. Many trees were butchered, countless animals were killed. God only knows what happened to the fishermen taking shelter in those woods. I can still hear them screaming. Can you hear them? Or are you listening to you mp3 player?

Meanwhile, there was another danger. The Bay of Bengal, mother and ally of Sidr, rose in fury. 15-20 feet tall waves devoured the chors. Do you know how high that is? It is roughly the height of a two-storey building. No one knows exactly how many drowned and were claimed by the vengeful sea.

1.5 million of the coastal people found shelters. How many of the remaining 3.3 million without shelters are dead? The cyclone rampaged through me, wiping out electricity and power supply all over the country. The trees suffered heavy casualties, trying to protect your brethren. They struggled till they were uprooted. And what did you do? Complain about how your cell phone had no charge, how you had no internet and you were cut off from your online friends, while you crowded around expensive eateries that ran on generators? You complain about the gruesome images in the media. Yes, I know they are in a rat race to get more viewers. But that is not the whole truth. I think the truth is that, the heartrending cries of the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost loved one make you feel guilty, and you hesitate before taking the next bite of pizza. Congratulations! You have all but forgotten the meaning of the word human.

But all is not yet lost. There is hope still for redemption. We have fought, whether valiantly or not is for the future to decide. Now my strength is spent. The cyclone has passed. But there are other battles to fight. The people need help. There is almost nothing left. No houses, no crops, no food, no water, nothing. The trees have been slaughtered. Will you not come? Will you not replenish their ranks? Will you not answer this call for aid? Will you not come?

By Kazim Ibn Sadique


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