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A poem around the recent floods of Assam and Bihar – with a story from another devastating disaster, the 2018 Kerala flood.
A story from the 2018 Kerala flood is presented for us to reflect on the devastating effects of this disaster, especially for those who live in bone-breaking poverty.
A reminder that the tragedy does not end with the flood, but enfolds slowly and painfully for some, long after its memory diminishes in the mainstream psyche.
When December Comes
I sat naked on the wooden bench
Waiting to be drowned in oil
Waiting for all my worries to be punched and pounded out of me
By the two women masseurs
Both, from Kerala.
One massaged my head, the other sat with her head resting on her arms.
Waiting and looking at me. Smiling.
The smile so warm, even my cold hearted self
She tells me,
Her house fell. A few months ago, when Kerala flooded.
Her two daughters and husband live there.
Did they fix the house? I ask.
Somewhat, but not really, she says. The money has to go for the girls educational na.
Her grandfather’s grandfather had also not seen a flood like this.
Then, why now. Why us.
I have no answer.
I ask if she’s been home since the flood,
This job – it must hold.
1200 kms away her family is putting together bits of their house and lives.
Half the house was submerged. Many things lost and damaged.
Trinkets, memories – the least of them. Cupboards and text books,
A table and the masalas kept stored under the counters.
So many things lost.
She smiles again.
She doesn’t get a day off every week like me.
She works from 6AM to 10PM. Massaging away pain.
All her clients come back and ask for her.
She tells me to do it too. Not because she gets paid more then. But just because.
She gets leave once a year.
When December comes she will go home.
She will pick up the pieces and live her loss once again.
When December comes.
A poetry-loving, feminist, and queer-affirmative therapist.
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