The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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In a shell a year after

Hyderabad, Dec. 25: Meghna Rajasekhar’s teachers say she has a head for languages. Looking at her, you wouldn’t know it. The Class X girl hardly speaks.

The 15-year-old went into a shell the day she also gave up collecting butterflies. It was the day the tsunami struck at their home at the Car Nicobar airbase and took away her parents and eight-year-old brother.

But the emotions she can’t speak about may yet find release. Every night before going to bed, Meghna sits at her desk in her hostel to pour her emotions into a diary. Some day she might get it published.

Meghna had been a curious child. She had got up early that Sunday morning for some “fishing and for collecting butterflies and insects” for her “zoological collections” when the waves came.

She spent the next two days and nights alone on the beach surrounded by the dead, turning them over one after another to see if her parents and brother were among them. She had saved herself by clinging to a tree trunk.

A year on, the teenager seemed to have coped somewhat as she finished her exams this week, refusing to let the tragedy cost her a year. But she’s turned a loner. “She doesn’t watch movies; she won’t even accompany her classmates to picnics,” a teacher said. “She is afraid of the waves; she sometimes has hallucinations.”

The head of the boarding school ' Parkwood School in Vikkarabad, 45 km from here ' wouldn’t let journalists meet her, especially with the anniversary of the tragedy approaching. “She has already suffered a lot. Let us not add to it in this hour of painful memories,” M.S. Ayub said.

When this correspondent had met Meghna a year ago, she had spoken about her desire to describe her trauma in a book. “I can write in Telugu and will look for someone to translate it,” she had said.

Asked whether she was continuing to write, her aunt said: “Meghna keeps a diary, but I don’t know what’s in it. I hope some day she will allow us to read it and publish it.”

“She is good in English, too. She can express herself well in both Telugu and English,” a teacher said.

The air force has arranged to fly Meghna to Car Nicobar to pay her respects to the memory of her parents. Her father was one of the ground staff at the airbase.

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