I walk into Akkarapettai feeling distinctly depressed. Not so much for the way things are now, but for my memories of this place. The fierce destruction, the boats flung like toys against the bridge, the stench of smoke and bodies and death, the horrendous slush-scape littered with bodies. I call the friend I was here with before, because I know he will know what I’m thinking and feeling as I look around me.
But today, there's little of all that. Well, apart from the destruction that's still evident. As Nity and I cross the bridge, we look left towards the sea and notice what look like small green spouts on the beach. Without needing to ask each other, we both turn towards there, walking past a man standing inside a metal shell of a boat and hammering loudly at one spot on the metal.
Curiously, the loud sounds he makes seem to disappear when we get to the sprouts, even though it’s only about 30 yards past him. A large Tamil sign says, "Forest garden for stopping tsunamis and cyclones." Laid out in neat rows at the start of the beach are about 300 young palms, each in its individual brick-defined circular bed, caressed by the evening breeze from the sea. Each young palm has a neat sign next to it, also in Tamil.
"A. Manisha". "S. Ajay". "D. Pradeep". "B. Jyothika". "M. Sushmitha". "B. Sneha."
Those who died here. Remembered as they grow to protect this place where they died.
Remembered here by palms that sway and dance and live in the breeze.
I was depressed, yes, and this is a sad spot in a town blown apart. But it is also a strangely peaceful, strangely uplifting spot.