KAVALAPPARA: The night of ‘black Friday’ is seared in Sunil Kumar's memory.
Usually, he used to go to bed by 9 pm. But on the eventful day, he turned in around 8 pm as Bhoodanam colony, where his family lives, had been without power the previous two days. The mobile phones didn't have any charge and other than the roar of lashing rain, there was deafening silence.
By 8 pm, the rain had turned heavy. Soon, Sunil Kumar's household was roused from sleep by a rumbling noise.
"But I couldn't recognise the sound except that there was a tremor from the ground lasting barely a second. I knew something had crashed to the ground. Initially, I thought it was a thunderstorm since the rain was ferocious," said Sunil, among the incredibly lucky few, whose house survived the calamity.
"Since we had been without power, I got out with a small battery torch. But I could hardly see anything beyond a distance of 10 metres due to poor visibility. Besides, the torch was not charged properly due to the power outage. When I looked at the house nearby, there was complete darkness. Except for this 'blinding' darkness, I didn't find anything amiss. However, the water which gushed into our settlement was unusually muddy," he said.
This made him sense that something was indeed seriously wrong.
"Normally, the neighbours raise an alarm by clanging their cooking utensils. But there was an eerie silence except the roar of the rain. I was scared to venture out further and returned to bed since my family members were anxious. But the unusually dark night and the rumbling noise disturbed my sleep," he said.
The morning after, to my great surprise, the entire colony where I lived all my life had vanished and there was only a heap of mud as the nearby hill caved in.
"I have lived all my life in the village, but never witnessed such a disaster before, except a minor landslide. We were lucky as our lives were spared. But a life without our dear ones and friends is unbearable,” he said, fighting back tears.
Krishnan Athikukkam, whose house too miraculously survived the landslide, said, “My family and myself were called to my brother’s house as he was away. After the rain intensified, he called up asking me to rush to his house since a mudslip had occurred in the colony last year. But this time round, we were hardly bothered as the geologists ruled out such a possibility. If there was any such warning, indeed the colony residents would have moved into relief camps just like last year."