Surviving Hardship Through Faith
2004 by Martha Jette
Jayantee Mukherjee believes her faith and that of her family pulled them through the frightening natural disaster.
Jayantee held her mother close, as they sat on the dining room table. They could hear the winds howling outside. Within minutes, the table seemed lighter and chairs began floating away. Here and there, papers, small figurines, books and other valuables floated by them.
“Momma. I’m scared,” she cried.
“If we can make it up the stairs to the terrace, maybe we can get help,” momma suggested.
Her father, who had managed to fight his way out of the poverty of India, looked furious. He had worked for a civil construction firm for many years and recently, moved the family nearer to a new job site in the coastal area of Paradeep. There they lived in the only pukka house – the rest were just huts – encircled by lush green paddy fields and a few coconut trees. Being the only wealthy inhabitants in the village, they had already been threatened with their lives for money. One night, the house was attacked by villagers, but the huge main doors managed to keep them at bay.
Twenty-four-year-old Jayantee and her momma were virtual prisoners in their new home, unable to go outside anymore. The day the rains came and the winds picked up, her father’s company shut down early. The storm had intensified and the winds were reaching record strength. He was happy to be at home with his family, but no sooner had he arrived, when anxious neighbors pounded on their door.
“Sir, it’s raining heavily and our huts are almost breaking away,” said one old man from the village. “Will you please let the women and children take shelter in your house?”
A kind hearted man, Jayantee’s father ushered dozens of people into their drawing room and verandah. Some of the children were crying, so Jayantee and momma brought in food to settle them down. It was getting dark, as they attempted to move about with only a kerosene lamp and flashes of lightening to lead them. Within a few hours, water began seeping into the house. When it was knee high, the villagers became restless. They realized they were standing in seawater! They quickly decided to leave and seek a safer refuge from this raging storm.
“We know nothing about this place!” cried her father. “Please take us along with you.
“Babu, please wait,” replied one of the old men. “I’ll come back and take you all to the safer place.”
Hours passed and no one came. In the meantime, Jayantee’s father became feverish. Soon his behavior became erratic and out of control. As he watched a lifetime of hard-earned possessions being soaked up by the onslaught, he raged like a wild man. The water was just over a meter high in the dining room where Jayantee and her mother were perched on the table. But their temporary refuge would soon end, as the seawater continued to rise.
With the first wobbles of the table, they stepped into the cold, waist-high water. Joining her father and Shankar, they slowly made their way across the room. Thunder clapped, as the wind and rain slashed at the windows. Outside, they could see huts and huge trees being uprooted and thrown from one side of the village to the other. Suddenly, the kerosene lamp toppled over. Darkness surrounded them. Shankar hurriedly lit a half-soaked torch, as Jayantee reached the door and struggled to open it.
“Ohhhhhhhh!” she shrieked, as a water snake slithered by her leg.
Fortunately, the venomous creature slid away. As soon as all of them had waded into the livingroom, they pushed the door hard, to keep the rest of their belongings from floating in. Then they heard a loud crash, as a bookcase slid over in the den. Sweeping back her long, dark hair, Jayantee saw her beloved harmonium half in and half out of the mirky water.
“No, momma! Grandma gave that to me,” she sobbed.
Through her salty tears, she could see that momma was crying too. The wind and rain were relentless, shaking the house and rattling them with fear. Then a tremendous crash shook them again and they quickly turned around. A huge coconut tree broke through the ceiling and onto the staircase. They realized that they were now trapped inside this swelling onslaught. Their escape route up the stairs and onto the upper terrace had been blocked.
“Help! Help! Someone, please help us!” they seemed to shout in unison.
Now the pounding rain thundered through the opening, pelting them with its fury. Jayantee grabbed at a curtain and tore it down. Covering momma, they huddled shivering on the wet staircase. All of them held hands tightly and prayed for dawn to arrive. Every so often, they resumed their cries for help, but to no avail.
It seemed like forever, but finally light peered through the ceiling, giving way to a new day. But the wind still raged and the rain poured down. Worst of all, the water had crept up the staircase near their feet. Doors had been flung open overnight by the surging water, which was now nearly over Jayantee’s head. Many of their possessions had escaped out the door, including her university degree certificates that had been hanging on a nearby wall.
“We have to get out now!” yelled her father.
With Shankar’s help, Jayantee managed to follow her father and momma toward the big front doors. Once outside, they saw no one. However, they felt they had a fighting chance, if they could just make it to the highway some 100 meters away. The driving wind seemed to push them on, sometimes wading, sometimes swimming along. Their hearts sank, as they saw each hut that they passed deluged with water. Every so often, carcasses of animals floated by. Had anyone or anything survived?
Somehow, they reached the highway. Drenched and frantic, they raced barefoot along the wet pavement. Finally, they reached a local mess hall and struggled to make it up the stairs to the second floor. What a huge relief! They saw not only people, but also dogs, cats, cows and other animals that had been brought to shelter there. Exhausted, Jayantee sank onto the wooden floor.
“Praise the Almight! We made it! her father sighed.
It was then that they recalled the song they heard playing in the mess hall, as they climbed the stairs. Though in Hindu, the translated words they heard were: “I am a Nomad, oh friend. No house, no whereabouts, and have to go on and on and on….”
They hugged each other and even Shankar was crying now. They knew that their prayers were heard that night and if they could survive this, they could survive anything together.
Now 27, Jayantee recalled that night of terror.
“We were saved by the Almighty,” she said.
Jayantee Mukherjee currently lives in Bhubaeswar, Orissa, India where she works as a Development Officer at the Silicon Institute of Technology. Here goal in life is to stay focused on remaining positive and finding success in life through honesty and integrity. Here is one of her favorite poems.
Today, I'll delete from my diary two days: Yesterday and tomorrow,
Yesterday was to learn & tomorrow will be the consequence of what I can do today
Today, I'll face life with the conviction that this day will not ever return
Today's the last opportunity I have to live intensely,
as no one can assume me that I'll see tomorrow's sunrises
Today, I'll be brave enough not to be any opportunity pass me by
My only alternative is to succeed
Today, I'll resist pessimism and will conquer the world with a smile
With the positive attitude of always expecting the best
Today, I'll take the time to be happy
And will leave my footprints and my presence in the heart of others....
Martha Jette is a retired newspaper and magazine editor
from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Her recently published book: "Glimpses"
True Stories of the Paranormal, is available through: www.creativebookpublishers.com
Her personal web site is: www.authorsden.com/glimpses
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