Amitav Ghosh: the tsunami essay

Caught up with this at Amardeep’s blog. Amitav Ghosh went to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands just after the devastation; he wrote a three-part article for The Hindu about what he found.

In Part One, Overlapping Faults, he makes the point that:

“Over the last two weeks, both the fault lines that underlie the islands seem suddenly to have been set in motion: it is as if the hurried history of an emergent nation had collided here with the deep time of geology.”

In Part Two, No Aid Needed, he stumbled across a man whom he calls just The Director, who was looking for survivors from his family.

In Part Three, The Town By The Sea, he and the Director find nothing but rubble, the detritus of a life; no survivors, except for the Director’s son, who had called him earlier to tell him of the enormity of the loss.

“I had imagined that his possessions had ended up in the same place because his house was nearby: this was an indication of how little I understood of the power of the surge. Its strength was such that it had tossed the Director’s house aside, picked up his household goods, bundled them together and punched them through a kilometre-wide expanse of dense habitation….”

“…I stood amazed as he walked off towards the blazing fire, with his slides still folded in his grip: how was it possible that the only memento he had chosen to retrieve were those magnified images? As a husband, a father, a human being, it was impossible not to wonder: what would I have done? what would I have felt? what would I have chosen to keep of the past? The truth is that nobody can know, except in the extremity of that moment, and then the choice is not a choice at all, but an expression of the innermost sovereignty of the self, which decides because nothing now remains to cloud its vision.”





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