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One year of hope born in tragedy

Hut Bay (Little Andaman), Dec. 21: On Christmas night, much of Andaman and Nicobar will go to bed troubled by the year-ago nightmare. But the people of Hut Bay will turn in for the night with the happy thought of celebrating as Tsunami turns one this December 26.

Within hours of the raging waves smashing into Hut Bay last year, Tsunami Roy was born in the dense forests of Laltikri, where his parents Namita and Lakshmi Narayan had taken refuge along with thousands of terrified residents.

“He is God’s gift to the people of Hut Bay and not just the Roys. He has brought us luck and we will celebrate his birthday and not brood over what happened last year,” said neighbour Sumita Saha.

When the waves roared in, Hut Bay collapsed. The entire town on the Little Andaman island ' about 370 km from Port Blair ' was destroyed and thousands were killed. Huddled in the forest, Namita fed her newborn cold spring water and a few spoons of powder milk before she was rescued four days later and taken to Port Blair, where doctors at a camp named the boy Tsunami.

“The people in the camp told us my son has brought them hope. A hope to live, a hope to see better times ' to help us overcome our sufferings,” said Namita, 27, whose elder son Subhendu, 8, got lost and was found in another camp.

Little Tsunami does not respond when people call him by his nickname, Sagar, the sea. Wearing a T-shirt given by a neighbour that has the words “Power of Nature” on it, he toddled into the verandah of the small shack Lakshmi Narayan has built. The 35-year-old grade IV employee at the local municipal corporation got financial help from the government as well as hundreds of people who had come to see the little hero.

On December 26, he and his wife will offer prayers at the local temple to thank God for their little gift.

The 1,000-odd residents of Najappa, where the Roys live, say they will raise money and celebrate Tsunami’s birthday. “We want to forget our pain, we have Tsunami to erase the bad memories,” said Namita Saha, a neighbour.

All roads here lead to 4 Hut Bay, where administration officials, social workers and even tourists flock to catch a glimpse of Tsunami. “But he is not around most of the time. He is not afraid to go to anybody and always wants to be taken towards the beach. After all, he is Tsunami,” said the proud mother.

Luck has smiled on the Roys, who are originally from Bhadreshwar in Bengal, since they went back to Hut Bay in June. The family now has a new rickshaw van as well as a sewing machine.

“The sea is barely one-and- a-half km from here, but we have the confidence to face another tsunami,” said Bablu, a resident of Najappa, with “the power and love of our own Tsunami”.

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