I was wonderstruck to learn that a Nobel prize was awarded to Peter Higgs, a noted physicist and staunch atheist from the UK, ironically for his findings on the “God particle” that is considered to be the source of life in the universe.
Though many atheists may reject the very existence of our Creator, there exists beyond any shadow of doubt the presence of a divine force controlling our lives and destinies.
Like many, I too was never religious-minded but my perception underwent a dramatic change after experiencing divine intervention on December 26, 2004. My two grown-up sons, a teenage daughter and I were on a pilgrimage to Velankanni, a famous pilgrim centre in Tamil Nadu. We were just about to enter the church at 9.30am for the Holy Mass when the tsunami struck.
Living in Kerala, I have had many opportunities to take a dip in the sea and experience huge waves battering me from all sides. But the colossal tsunami wave that I witnessed was something out of this world resembling a mountain of water speeding along the sea shore destroying within seconds everything in its path. Those basking on the beach were swatted like flies; cars were overturned like toys and the fenders of heavy vehicles torn apart with the remnants. Sadly, very many precious lives were lost in this tragedy. The victims were mostly people who were busy shopping on the seafront or enjoying themselves on the beach.
Providentially, nobody inside and on the premises of the church was harmed—nothing short of a miracle since the church is hardly 100m from the sea. My children and I survived the catastrophe without even getting our feet wet! There was total chaos around us as nobody knew what a tsunami was. It was only after contacting relatives by mobile phone that we learnt it was a tidal wave generated after an earthquake in Indonesia and that there were dangers of more aftershocks.
We were panic-stricken seeing the death and destruction. We wanted to return home without delay but all vehicular transport had ceased. Except for people running helter-skelter, nothing else moved. All shops had downed shutters. All we had with us was a small bottle of lime juice.
Carrying our luggage, the four of us started trekking to Nagapattinam, the nearest town 12km away. Walking such a long distance in the scorching sun and on an empty stomach was no easy task. On the road we met an exodus of humanity moving inland from the ravages of the sea. My daughter looked pale and tired, we encouraged her to keep walking and gave her the little refreshment we had. Our destination seemed so far away, our limbs ached and our progress slowed. After about four hours of trekking we made it to Nagapattinam. Very soon we managed to board a bus for our onward journey to Kerala. Our firm belief in God coupled with our will to live helped us survive the calamity against all odds.