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Children Born Of The Sea, Playing In The Waters

By Anitha S

13th and 14th September 2012

Today was a good and bad day for us. Nothing new about this situation since the 9th of September. Good because we all went to the seashore by morning and played in the waves, shouting slogans and singing. The waves came in first slow and steady. As the sea started pushing us we held on to the ropes that had been tied so thoughtfully by our youth. It was initially a bit strange to feel the salt water, sticky and warm from the sun’s rays cover us completely. But by afternoon it was fun.

At a distance we could see the yellow domes in the haze and heat of the sun. We prayed as we stood in the waters for it to be closed so we and the sea would remain clean and healthy. All of us were there- from 70 year olds to little kids. Many mothers carried their toddlers. The bigger ones were smart and while the waves took them off the sandy bottom of the ocean , they hung on in glee to the ropes. Some balanced themselves precariously on the ropes, others held on to each other. But no one went away or seemed tired even in the hot sun.
We all shouted
Venda venda
Anuulai venda
Moodu moodu
Anu ulai moodu
( We do not want the Nuclear Power Plant
Shut down this Nuclear Power Power Plant).

Annammal who has not missed one day at the Samara Pandal since August last year (when her daughter was just a few months old) says with pride that one of the few words her little one has picked up as she started speaking has been Venda, venda. Isabella inspite of her illhealth is here with her mature wisdom.

Our men have lost their voices shouting. So we women took over with renewed energy. We miss Xavieramma and Sundari now. But Melrit and Mary, Sahayam and Fransisca are there- strong and willful. Also so many of us who are determined not to give up.
It heartened us to hear that well known and sensitive women from many parts of the country are coming together so that our lives can be protected. Arundathi Roy’s statement along with the moving words of Mahasweta Devi has given us a lot of hope that all is mot gone. We are so touched that Mahasweta Didi would like to visit us. We remember the courage and support that women like Lalitha Ramdas, Vaishali Patil,Sugathakumari and Medha Patkar gave us. This is not to leave out the many women who have come here many times over and appreciated our struggle. We invite you all again. But we wonder how women like Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalitha are still silent. We know that our two letters which are addressed to women has reached across the world- but many who could respond are silent.Are they not bothered by our crisis?

Standing in the sea gave us special strength and hope. We are children of the sea. As 70 year old Chinna Thankam kept repeating we have played in the ocean.Where can be go leaving it? Today while standing there rocked by the waves someone said that there is talk we should be taken away and put in some other place. Which other place, we thought out loud? We know of no place other than the seashore. We wake up an go to sleep hearing and feeling the sea. Our life and bodies are tied to the sea. Our livelihood and source of income is the sea and its wealth. So which person can decide that we can survive without the ocean? . Ours is an umbilical relation with the salt water. What happens to it happens to us too. If the nuclear waste and hot water reaches the ocean and kills it would we be alive ?. This is what we thought as the warm waters reached our waist..

We try to hum the words of our dear poetess Kutty Revathy sung to us by M.B.S.Youth Choir in Trivandrum:

Oh Sea, Oh Sea
You are like our body
Like our mother’s lap
Our mother’s lap

The waves that wet our legs
Will it ever be the volcano that cripples our life?

Oh sea, Oh Sea….

We looked around and saw that inspite of all that has been happening since the 9th morning, we are still going strong. Our girls are cheerful and together. Our boys are working so hard bringing water in packets and giving a helping hand to the elder ones.
We are so relieved that with our strength and pleas, our dear brothers UdayaKumar and Pushparayan are somewhere safe, working and planning so that our life will be safe. We could not imagine them in an unknown jail for many years. What more can we ask for?

Today has been a bad day for us as skies darken. We hear the news that 39 year old Sahayam who stood in the waters, was caught unawares and fell down hitting his head (shocked by the aircraft of Coast guard that flew low ) has lost his life. We are sad and angry that all us are being caught unawares by the myriad and unfair ways of this demon.

He died in a hospital in Nagercoil. An uneasy quiet came over us before many of us broke down thinking of our sons in some faraway jails and our sisters worrying about their little ones and homes. What more is in store for us, what more prices will we have to pay for having asked a few questions?

We have been promised a super-speciality hospital. Why? Are any of us afflicted with super- speciality diseases? Or do they expect us to be soon? There is not even a primary health centre here. All of us have fairly good health. We do need steady supply of safe fresh water. That is paramount. We can work hard and earn the rest- food, clothing, education and so on. We imagined as we stood in the sea feeling the surging tide that the Nuclear power plant campus gets converted to a super facility centre for all the villages around- hospital ,schools, library, drinking water supply schemes and so on. How much employment could be generated then?

As days pass, our resolve gets strengthened and more focused. We are not here together for a confrontation. We are only together with one single request to the world and to India from the waters of Bay of Bengal YES ,We do have one important request to ask- Shut down the Nuclear Power Plant, not just here but allover the world. We are willing to collect as alms and pay to the Government what they claim to have spend on this toxic domes. Do our lives and that of our future generations cost less? Does the life of the ocean, the land and water cost less as it has to be there to sustain generations to come? The waters also responds with energy and vigour. Listen to us, the children of the Seas….

( as told by Melrit, Sahayam, Mary, Chinnathankam, Isabella, Tamilarasu, Annamal, Fransisca, Ponnasakkiammal, Jasmine, Mary and many others after the Jalasamarpan on 13.09.2012 to Anitha.S ( anithasharma2007@gmail.com)



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