PUTHUMALA: "When will we get back our old life, sir...? How long do we have to suffer this orphaned plight? I am only left with this dress I am wearing," Saleem Poothrathodiyil asked Ramachandran Kadannappally, Minister for Ports, Museums, Archaeology and Archives. The minister was at the landslide-hit Puthumala to oversee the search operation on Monday.
Saleem's concern is one that every person whom Express has met here since Thursday has shared. Uncertainty about their future is writ large on their faces.
64 houses gone
As many as 64 houses at Pachakkad, Puthumala, have been flattened, confirms Sub Collector NSK Umesh.
Ramsheed, cousin of Saleem, said many of these houses were new.
"Our grandfathers and fathers sweated it out in the tea estate as labourers to own these pieces of land and build houses on them. We were a happy lot. There was a small cardamom, pepper and coffee cultivation for sustenance. Now, the entire land is full of boulders and deep slush. We cannot live here nor cultivate anything," Ramsheed said.
Noufal S, another youth, agrees. They say the government must now provide them with land somewhere else.
'Mini Ooty' no more
The villagers called their picturesque Puthumala 'Mini Ooty'. They have pristine greenery all around, stream water gushing in, Chooralmala and the Kalladi river nearby and a great bonding of people irrespective of religion and Malayalam and Tamil ethnicity.
Close to Puthumala is a place called 'Kashmir'. Perhaps, someone enchanted by its natural beauty named it so.
"On Bakrid, we used to pray in the mosque and distribute 'payasam' to each household here. But today, I am thinking of where to start even if it is from the scratch. Most of the people have no other property or livelihood sources," said Navas P.
No body recovered
No body was recovered at Puthumala on Monday.
Due to Bakrid, there was a shortage of volunteers compared to the past two days. Two earthmovers were stuck in the deep slush.
The Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society (ULCCS) has been roped in, with more earthmovers, on Tuesday.