August 01, 2005

An arm raised

Khuraisa Khatun is a handsome woman, I can't help noticing. Broad shoulders, steady frank eyes, clean lines to a face that seems made to smile warmly, if you know what I mean. But of course, she isn't smiling. She is clearly in pain and clearly profoundly sad.

She has wounds all over her arms and up and down her legs, scabbed scratches to patches of skin torn away. She moves her head slowly, she moves her arms slowly, she pulls up her salwar -- to show us the leg wounds -- slowly. All this from being suddenly buried in mud and rocks and debris.

She and her husband Suvrati Shaikh lived in a chawl on the Saki Naka hillside, with their six children between 3 and 13 years old. They were all at home that afternoon when it happened. She screamed for help for hours, but either nobody heard because of the rain or nobody was there to hear because they had run away. Around 8 or 9 that night, she heard some people trying to rescue victims; she began screaming again, and this time managed through the pain to raise an arm and wave. Here she actually tries to raise her hand, to show me how she did it. She can't.

Somebody -- she still doesn't know who -- saw her arm and got her out. And her husband and their kids.

But when they brought out 3 year old Farida and 8 year old Mohammed Shahzad, they were dead.

Sitting on her stool opposite me, Khuraisa starts weeping softly.


Sunil said...

all these posts.......feels like the tsunami once again...

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say. I just don't.