Odisha is super in many things. Her culture is super and the dance Odisha is super in grace. Her temple architecture Konark is world famous. Her God is Sri Jagannath, the Lord of the universe. So to maintain the superiority, did the Super Cyclone hit it. God only knows.
It was the afternoon. It is the best time to meet relatives and to have a heart to heart talk. I and my husband decided to visit my sister in law. As son has returned from his classes, he stayed at home and we two, me and my hubby both drove to my brother’s house, which is barely two kilometres away from our place. O by the way, I have forgotten to mention the date. It was 28th October 1999. The weather that day was perfect and we drove happily.
Enjoying tea and snacks, we were talking and talking about our large family. Mostly about the children. Their likes, dislikes, etc, etc. At that time her children returned from the school and they were overjoyed seeing their aunt and uncle. They ran for washing.and changing to join us. Even my brother’s doggy was near the gathering and munching the biscuits, aimed to his mouth by my nephew. All of us were in an enjoying mood.
The evening was gradually setting in, and we were waiting for our brother’s return from his office. Finally, he arrived at 5:30 straight from the secretariat. After sweet greetings and another bout of Darjeeling tea, he said with a grave tone “a cyclone of 250 kph is approaching towards Bhubaneswar, the whole secretariate is hot on the discussion and the whole world is busy finding the direction of the cyclone on the. Our son was at home. So from the light sweet discussion, we all became serious and somewhat frightened and we both immediately got up to reach our house as soon as possible. After reaching home and saying about the cyclone to our son, the hissing sound of wind started. O” we three exclaimed, “the cyclone has arrived”. Thanks to my dear brother, who timely alerted us and we left his place, otherwise we had been at his house, leaving our son alone to face the terrible evening on his own. By the time we reached home, electricity had gone. Wind with rain continued throughout the night. Horrified sounds, as if powerful fireworks going up to the sky. All doors and windows, closed, we slept the night with lots of fear and apprehension.
The fateful morning of 29th October. Still, the rain continuing and the wind blowing, we took breakfast and our son got ready for his electronics practical class. I asked him not to attend, fearing the intensity may rise, he argued: “how could I miss the practical ma.” At the very moment, our telephone rang. It was my brother. He wanted to talk to my son. I told about his practical class and told He is starting for the college. .He was shocked hearing this “practical class!! Are you out of your.mind?Can’t you people imagine the situation? Stop him from going. .give him the phone,” he commanded me. At that moment a heavy bout of wind came, and the phone got dead and that was the last call as it took nearly a month to get the phone to life. It was not only we, everybody’s phone was dead. At that time mobiles were not in use. So without communication, everybody suffered alone in their respective homes. Oh my God, you saved my son with that prophetic call by my brother. Had he left on his bike! Oh no no. I was trembling like a leaf in fear. Both father and son held me to lighten the situation and to comfort.”Don’t panic ma I am here With you,” assured my son. Husband started teasing me. He told to son “see, your mother is chicken-hearted. How much scared she is?”By that time son tried to soothe us with tea. He went to the kitchen and made tea for three of us.We were having tea and there was TANDAB of nature going on outside. Big hoardings flying and falling. Trees falling. The sound and my fear of getting on increasing. Both father and son were looking at the destruction through the glass panes. I was uttering Vishnu Sahashranaam.
The whole day was horrific. What is happening to my family! How are they? No way to communicate! How are my neighbours? How are my friends? No electricity no net! How can we communicate to our daughters? All of them are far away. Out of the state and one in the UK. Oh God, they must have known from tv news about the happenings here! What must they be thinking about us? How worried and insecure they must be feeling! Gradually the dark night arrived. What will happen in the night? The intensity of the storm is increasing.
The whole night I could not sleep thinking about my girls. Rain with wind and the horrifying whistling sound made me very nervous. To avoid the sound I put cotton in my ears. But no respite. The beds seemed to be trembling .O God will we survive this cyclone? What will happen to my daughters? The younger one is not yet married. How her marriage will be without us? I thought my head will burst with this sort of thinking. Anyway, the fearful night dawned at last.
.In morning the severity of the cyclone was low. My husband tried his best to drive to the nearest bank which had a generator so that he can access the net. The devasted roads made him drive one hour to reach less than half a kilometre to the bank. The friendly senior bank manager helped my husband’s trembling hand to type a message to our eldest daughter that we are all alive so that she would convey it to her sister. The heaviness of our hearts, we three at home, got relieved, after sending the message.
The aftermath scenario was so bad. Heaps of leaves, fruits, fallen trees. Oh, my beautiful city was in a terrible mess. Thank God our house was intact.Friends in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, their houses broken by falling trees. Rainwater gushing inside the houses. O what a hellish experience for them!
No electricity, no water supply. No communication. We were probably in the stone age. The wires of electricity, telephones and tv cables tangled, intertwined, gave the pictures of a thousand skeletons. Roads were full with flown hoardings. Having all these on roads commuting was very difficult. It took five days to clear the mess. Probably all were stunned and dazed how and what to do. As calculated the cyclone was from Paradeep to Puri. Nobody had the least idea of it hitting Bhubaneswar. Maybe this is the reason for not any preparation beforehand. Who can calculate God’s plan!! So Puri got heavy rain and, we in Bhubaneswar faced the strong wind and also rain. Double trouble!
The commendable job was done by The chief minister of our neighbouring state Andhra, Sri Chandrababu Naidu. He sent machinery and men power to settle the devastation. The telephone and electricity poles were erected wires put and on the twelfth day of the super cyclone, we got electricity, and that too in an auspicious day of Deepawali.
Odisha lost thousands of valuable lives. We had read about Naanka famine in Odisha when lots of people died, and now Supercyclone, the Greatest havoc for my state.
The horrific super cyclone caused super devastation in Paradeep and Ershama. Thousands of homes washed away. Homes gone, family is gone. A huge number of people lost mental balance. Some got mad, some went to deep depression. Even small children lost their speech out of fear. A sense of helplessness prevailed in every mind, be it in the intelligentsia, the rich, the poor or the government. I for myself never imagined witnessing such a horrifying thing in my lifetime.
Till today, each October, especially the day 29th, brings back those horrifying scenes in the mind. Anyway, it was past and it has gone although leaving some wounds and scars. One good thing is, we have and must go on rebuilding and repairing the material loss. We have done it successfully and has taken our city, to be the number one smart city in our vast country. But can anyone bring back those who had been washed away on that terrible day? Mothers lost children. Wives lost husbands. Fathers lost hope for the future. But Super cyclone taught us the ultimate truth. It opened our eyes. We realized that all our wealth, all our education, all our technologies fail to control the fury of NATURE. She is supreme. What we can do to worship HER is we should not interfere with her beautiful creation by destroying her greenery, polluting her water, digging her for mines in the name of development and prosperity. Let her be in peace and she will never be furious