Battling the raging winds

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 15.04.10
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Raiganj, April 14: Suddenly, 55-year-old Khudiram Oraon found his daughter-in-law and her five-year-old son “blowing away”.

Waking up to the sound of thunder and crashing metal, Khudiram initially did not quite realise what was happening. Then within a few seconds, he knew that a huge storm was raging outside.

Peering around in the darkness of the his three-room mud house — it was close to midnight and he had gone to sleep a few hours earlier — he looked for his two daughters-in-law and their two children to see if they had woken up as well.

But before he could grope his way to the other two rooms, there was a sudden shudder and he looked up to see the tin roof of his house blowing away.

In the brief glare of the lightning that kept striking, he saw his daughters-in-law with their children cowering in the corners of the two rooms.

With the roof gone, the swirling winds kept striking down everything inside the small house, blowing away utensils and overturning the small table that had been kept in one of the rooms. Outside, he could see tin roofs floating around like falling leaves and trees getting uprooted from their roots.

Then suddenly, the wall of one of the rooms collapsed and one of his daughter-in-law, clutching her child quickly rolled away from the falling debris. “But I was shocked to see that the two of them just kept on rolling and not stopping,” said Khudiram, a farmer of a village in the Karandighi block of North Dinajpur who is now being treated for leg injuries at the district hospital in Raiganj. “It was then that I realised that they were being blown away by the wind.”

Khudiram rushed outside to stop the two of them. “The wind was so strong it was like I had hit a wall,” Khudiram said. “I had to struggle to edge my way forward, but I knew I had to make it or else the two of them would perish.”

Just as he was reaching out to the two a flying tin roof, blown away from one of the many huts in the village, hit him in his right leg. “I could not move after that, I knew I could not get up,” Khudiram said.

Fortunately for him, he saw his daughter-in-law and the grandchild hit a tree nearby and stop. Within a minute they got up and sat beneath the tree. The other woman by then had come out of the house with her child.

As Khudiram watched with relief, he fell unconscious. He later learnt that they had suffered only minor injuries. And then, about 15 minutes later, it started pouring. With the water hitting his face, Khudiram regained his senses a few minutes later and, with the help of some villagers, limped back to his home.

Shortly after the storm had settled — it lasted around 20 minutes — Khudiram’s two sons who were visiting a fair in another village returned home and rushed their father to the Karandighi block health centre. Told his wound was too serious to be treated there, they shifted him to the district hospital this morning where he recounted his experience.