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Tsunami

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					                       Tsunami

It was the day after Christmas 2004. The Christmas joy was still lingering in many Christian houses. On
the other hand, Buddhist families were at the temples, as it was the Unduvap Full Moon Poya day. Many
people travelled down south for the holiday during the season. They were out on the beaches, playing
and enjoying their holiday to the fullest.

While all this was going on, something unusual was happening at the beach. Around 9 am the people
witnessed something rare. The water level of the sea was falling and no outgoing tide was responsible
for revealing the area that was once under the sea, now opening to the blue sky. Some sea creatures
were trying their best to survive from the gazing sun. People were thrilled. They ran out to the point
where the water was. The children were highly excited about what was happening.

However, the joy did not last long. Within a few minutes, a huge black wall of seawater arose from the
sea, covered the people, buildings and everything possible on land.

In the blink of an eye, many coastal cities in the country faced the the worst destruction of the century.
Around 45,000 people lost their lives, and many became homeless. This year we are commemorating
the seventh anniversary of this devastating incident.

Many people still weep for their family members or their friends. They have so many stories to tell. They
are ones who suffered so much from this tragic incident. Akila Nirranjan, a graduate from some who has
first-hand experience of the bitterness of the tsunami. He shared his story about how he lost his best
friend from tsunami, with us.

On December 26, 2004, the University of Kelaniya organized a “Sil” campaign or their students just
before the final semester examination began. Many students and lecturers observed “Sil” on that day.
However, Jayalanka, first year microbiology student, from Matara had other plans. He wanted to go
home and see his old parents before the examination began.

He took the early morning train to Matara to go home, hoping to return the next day. Everything was
going smoothly, until the moment his friend received a call from him. He was in hurry. Since he did not
have a phone from a fellow passenger.

“Sea water is coming to the land. It is flooded all over. We are trapped in train. But, don’t worry I’m
fine”. He disconnected the line. Within a few minutes, the news spread among the batch mates.
However, no one thought it would be something more than just a flood. Therefore, they carried on with
their program.

It was around there in the evening when they first heard about the rising death toll and the destruction
that this “flood” had caused. They tried their best to contact Jayalanka. Nevertheless, all effort were
useless. Early morning next day, all his friends set sail to go Matara. The journey took almost nine hours
in the bus packed with many in search of their friends and relatives.

“It was a terrible experience. some people cried when they heard the announcements on the radio.
Updates about the tsunami destruction and the National ID number of the dead were broadcast all
trough out. The worst was when they read an ID numbers of a dead person; a woman was travelling on
the bus to find that person. I still remember the way she cried, said Akila. “ We were depressed just by
listening to those stories, “ he said.

Akia and his friends checked all refugee camps for Jayalanka. However, they could not trace him
anywhere. “We did not know what to do.

Then we went to one of our friends, Poorna’s house to get some help,” he recalls. “With the help of
Poorna’s father we went to Karapitiya hospital. One of the Poorn’s neighbors’ also joined us. He was
looking for his wofe.” He pauses. “I was terrified, to see so many bodies at the hospital. The entire place
was stinking. Those bodies were beyond recognition,” he added.

The day turned night, and they checked each carcass with the help of a torch. At one point, Poorna’s
neighbor said, “Putha, can you direct the torch to that body again?” He saw, it was his wife. He
recognized her from wedding ring. The night passed without any news about Jayalanka. As soon as the
next day dawned, they went to Thalawatha, where the train was.

“When I saw the train, I gave up hopes about Jayalanka,” Akila said and went on the describe the scene.
“The rail track was badly damaged and engine was many meters away from the track.

If the wave was the powerful, how can an ordinary man survive? They found the National ID of
Jayalanka, but not his body. They never found it. As soon as the sea settled, some badly damaged bodies
had been buried. Therefore, they assumed Jayalanka’s body also must have been among them.

They went to his parent’s empty handed and held a funeral without a body. “His parents could not bear
the news about the death of their only son. Still, when we visit that house they cry a lot. Jayalanka was
their only hope.” Akila said.”The year after his death we organized a ‘Pirith’ ceremony in the University
to commemorate the first death anniversary. He was a great friend to everyone,” Akila sobbed and
concluded the story with tears.

				
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