by Arshid Malik

I am writing this only to reach out to thousands around, broken just like me by the 2014 floods. There is hope as long as we believe.

A man sailing on a container plank on a submerged road in Srinagar. The low lying areas were completely submerged in water forcing people to take shelter in the safer areas. KL Image

Flashback September 2014: There was an outcry in the neighbourhood that woke me up from my slumber followed by gurgling sounds of water jettisoning into our lane. I got out of bed, out on the veranda to witness a scene I had never before witnessed. Water, lots of it, was gushing into the lanes and by-lanes surrounding our house. Terror had gripped one and all and we panicked before attempting to save some stuff as the water level had reached our knees. We managed to salvage some eatables, drinking water and some utensils and clothing. Water was rising fast and I guess it was somewhere within half an hour that the water level was touching the first floor of our house and rising. People were screaming, and out of the screams, we could make out the noise of a house collapsing on the farther side of the locality, followed by another one.

We were settled for staying on the first floor but as water levels crossed the first-floor level we rushed to the second floor carrying what little we had managed to save. The water levels subsided at one and a half floor height. It was a horrendous night as more houses collapsed. The next day we were watching for the levels to recede but there was very little comfort. The water had come to stay, it seemed. The next night more houses collapsed and we were afraid that our own houses might cave in. On the third day, we managed to leave the submerged area in a makeshift boat to safety. We were happy that we are alive. Days ahead were tougher. When the water levels had fallen to plinth levels, we waded in and I was too happy to realize that our house had not collapsed. Then the cleaning and dredging started. It was almost a month before we entered our house again – to live in it. I was all the time grateful to Almighty Allah for saving our house lest we would have been in great trouble.

With the floods more than one and a half years into history I learnt something else that had been wrecked during the floods. It was me. Yes, I learnt that though our house had not collapsed it was me who had collapsed inside.

Pre-floods I had a very healthy and active lifestyle. Having been diagnosed diabetic I was taking great care of my health. My mind was in great shape. After the floods, my lifestyle changed completely. I was too lethargic to get up early and go for my walks. I was debilitated and weak with my waistline plunging out further inch by inch with every passing quarter. Somehow all that haunted my mind was the “fury of the floods”. The area in which I live was in tatters for a long time as people were trying, little by little, to rebuild their houses. The whole scene was encouraging and distressing for me at the same time. Somehow the fear and anxiety of the floods had made inroads into me just like the water that had flooded our locality a year and a half ago. But this I realized recently.

A few months back, deep depression set in for me and I was not able to move out of bed for a week or so. I was a mental wreck. After finding the courage to take on the challenge head-on and seeing a psychiatrist I realized what had gone wrong and when. Everything pointed to the floods. However strong I had been during the floods and howsoever blessed our family had been since the house had survived, I was broken inside. The shadow of the floods had eclipsed my mind and heart.

I am writing this only to reach out to thousands around, broken just like me by the 2014 floods. There is hope as long as we believe.


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