Tales of love from flood-hit Kerala

Cows getting rescued when water levels rose (pic from What'sApp)

By Najiya O, TwoCircles.net

They were a group of men and women collecting essential items to be given at the relief camps when a middle aged man asked if they wanted clothes. When they said they wanted, he took them to his shop and opened its shutters. What they witnessed after that was unbelievable. The man named Noushad began packing four large bags with new clothes from his shop, which he had kept for sale. When they asked if his shop wouldn’t be on loss, he replied with an emphatic ‘no’ and said that it was never a loss but rather he would get the rewards from God. Noushad, who sold clothes on the roadside in Ernakulam, contributed four large bags full of new clothes for the flood victims. His act of love in the time of need was highly appreciated and applauded.

Support TwoCircles

A caricature of Noushad by artist Pencilashan (pic from Facebook)

Such acts of love took place in several parts of the state in several forms, just as during the deadly floods of last year. During the floods of 2018, people from the Malabar area went in hundreds to the badly-affected southern districts for rescue and relief works in the beginning, and once the water receded, for cleaning and providing the essential items. And now that the floods have affected the Malabar area most, the people from the south are flocking to the north to help the needy. Some restaurants in Malabar refuse to take money from the people for the food they have taken, once they get to know that they have come from the south to help. A message written on the black board in a camp in Malappuram which had many people from other states (come to Kerala to work) read “Kerala is the best citizen of India.” There have also been reports of small children breaking their piggy banks to help the flood victims.

As the masjid in a village in Kannur district was destroyed in the floods, the Muslims there had no place to hold the Eid Namaz. The Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam unit in the place understood this and offered to give the hall in their compound to hold the Eid prayers. In another incident at Sreekandapuram in Kannur district itself, a team of Muslim men went to clean a temple, full of mud and dirt by the floods, soon after their Eid prayers on Monday. Indeed, the floods did not check whether it was the temple or mosque when the water levels rose.

People offering eid namaz in the hall of paripalna yogam compound ( Image: the hindu)

The District Collector of Thiruvananthapuram had posted a video message on his Facebook page on August 9 saying that the rescue operations were going on in the Malabar area and that sending the collected items to Wayanad and Malappuram could wait. This message came at the time of need below the nose of the Chief Minister who was appealing all to contribute generously for the flood relief. The same night VK Prasanth, mayor of Thiruvananthapuram, posted his video message giving details of the flood relief collection centre opened by the Municipal Corporation and requesting more help. Contrary to the common assumption and the messages being spread that the people of southern Kerala were less helpful than those of the north, the collection centre began to get filled fast after a short initial hesitation. Truckloads of items began to be sent to the affected Malabar areas soon. A total of 52 trucks have been sent from Thiruvananthapuram to the affected areas in the north till August 15 with essential items ranging from food and clothes to drinking water.

While more than 2.2 lakh people were evacuated to the more than 1200 camps set in different parts of the state, many people moved to the houses of their friends and relatives which became an evident token of love and bonding. The ‘Stay with Us’ initiative was begun by a group of friends who wanted to do their own bit in the flood relief. The group functions all over the state as a link between those who were willing to accommodate another or two families in their house and those willing to accept the accommodation. Some families near the Calicut International Airport announced on social media that they were willing to accommodate those who were stuck at the airport not able to go to their houses due to the rains.

While the operation to find out the dead bodies of those buried under 12 feet of mud, dirt and rocks is still going on at Kavalappara in Nilambur in Malappuram district, the Salafi Masjid at Pothukall nearby has come forward providing space to conduct the postmortem of those bodies recovered from there in the masjid. The religion or caste of the people dead or the nature of the act being done was not a concern for the mosque authorities. Indeed death did not ask for religion when people were getting killed in the calamities.

A truck with flood relief items from a southern district to Malabar.. the poster on the truck says ‘this vehicle is filled with love from the south to the north’ (pic from Facebook)

Those organisations and groups that had actively participated in the rescue and relief operations last year are doing their part this year also. The Green Palliative, various Muslim organisations, political parties along with their youth and students wings, the National Service Scheme units in schools and colleges, Anpodu Kochi (based in Ernakulam), Compassionate Keralam (based in Calicut), Kaikorthu Kannur (based in Kannur) etc are some of them. Several organisations and local collectives took the initiative to provide a sumptuous meal of biriyani at the camps on the day of Eid. There were also collection drives to provide good clothes for the Eid. Rehabilitation projects are also getting planned as a token of continuing love and humanity.