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Stories From Koodankulam: Saheer, Waiting For Mother

By Anitha S

21 September, 2012

I am Saheer. I am 7 years old. I study in the Primary Section of the Higher Secondary School in Idintakarai village by the sea. Since 9th September, I live with my father’s sister close to my own house along with my 10 year old sister Shyamili. You might wonder why we are here. It is because my mother Sundari disappeared that day from the seaside when police came in huge numbers and threw tear gas and beat us up with lathis. I ran fast with my friends to the shelter of the Church.We knew that the Government does not like our peaceful protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant coming up inside my village.

I was shocked, scared, angry and sad when I heard my mother has been arrested by the Police. After almost 10 days, when we heard that she is in Trichy jail along with her friends Xavieramma and Selvi we were a bit relieved. My sister who is very bold says she is angry and sad because our kind and loving mother has been called many bad names. From 3rd September onwards, my mother has been going to many places to talk to people to come and be with us on 9th here. She would return late laden with stories about the places and people she saw, what they ate and so on. On 6th night she bought us soft and hot parottas that we all sat together in the kitchen and ate. Last month she was in Thiruvananthapuram to meet someone. She came in late but told me and my sister about the tasty banana fry they had. She narrated how the city was getting ready for Onam festival and promised to make us the fry. It was only the other day that I saw my father throw away the tapioca that she had made me buy to make the steamed dish with coconut. She knows I love it.

Someone asks if I miss her. What a stupid question! From the minute I wake up hearing her stern voice “ Sahir, Get up. Your tea is getting cold” to the time at night when she makes sure I am covered well I miss her so. My aunt looks after us with as much love and care, but….. As there is no school, I play a lot with my friends. But yesterday, I stopped midway because I heard my mother calling “ Saheer” in a long tone. After that I could not join the play.

Someone asked if I am scared. What a stupid question! Would you not be if suddenly your mother disappears and for many days you do not know where she is? Would you not be if you knew that your mother has been accused of crime and unlawfulness? It is not every day that your mother is in jail . Would they beat her? Would they talk bad words to her? Would she have good food and be able to bathe? My mother is a very clean person- even when she came tired at night on 7th night after travelling far she took a bath before sleeping. I am scared. But as my sister says over and over again “ We have not looted or murdered. We are struggling for justice” . She is like my mother- bold and soft. She worries that if they start the Nuclear plant the radiation will reach the fishes that we export to many places. This will affect the health of many places and children will be born deformed. Yes, I am scared.

I want my mother to be near and quietly explain things to me. Even if she was not at home when we came home from school, I knew she would come with some nice delicacy. I try not to cry as she would tell me “ You have to be strong, my son and not cry. Strong enough to stop this horrible Anu-ulai that will destroy us, our sea and land”

I want to tell her I am as strong and bold as my 7 year old body and mind will let me. I want to tell her that the jasmine plant in our backyard has been watered well and it has flowers. I want her to know that me and my sister are trying hard to clean the house and kitchen whenever we go home with our silent father. I want her to know that we are pro ud of her as my father says “ If you are part of such struggles you need to be strong to face the consequences”. My sister joins “Yes, even if I have to give up the comfort of being near my mother for a time, I will be proud of her and the cause she is standing up for”

While she says this I wonder “When will my dear mother come back?”

Anitha.S after a day with the children of Idintakarai on September 20, 2012.
Picture by Veena, M.



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