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The People's Pilgrimage travels to Visakhapatnam where Cyclone Hudhud caused extensive damage 10 months ago.back to listing
by Yeb Saño,
The young mother wiped the sweat on her forehead with her saree as she continued to waft some air into the embers. She placed two cobs of corn over the coal and let it toast as she rolled the cobs to even out the cooking. Lakshmama had a very friendly demeanor, and while her smile was coy, it revealed a cheery vibe. Sai, her 10 year old son squatted beside her in her makeshift street side roasted-corn stand. The boy matched his mother’s affability, and exhibited an alertness that had a sharpness about it. Selling roasted corn was the only means of living for this family.
A family whose lives have been torn up by an extreme event that had never happened to them or for anyone in Visakhapatnam before.
When the conversation came to Cyclone Hudhud, tears started to well in Lakshmama’s eyes. She related how her entire home was lost to the storm that hit her village with storm surges from the sea towering above their heads and destroying everything in its path. Hudhud hit the eastern coast of India ten months ago — since then, millions of people have been affected and thousands lost their homes. “I can’t talk about it anymore, I am already getting emotional,” she ruefully asserts. Instead, she asked Sai to bring us to the place where their house once stood.
Visakhapatnam is a coastal city in the state of Andra Pradesh on the Bay of Bengal that was ravaged by Cyclone Hudhud in October 2014. Nicknamed Vizag, this city is home to about 2 million people and is also the only natural harbor on the eastern seaboard of India.
As we made our way to the seaside cluster of homes, or where they once used to be, the scene was heartbreaking, as it became clear that the entire village had been washed away by the torrent. What remained were low piles of bricks and stone, and Sai pointed to where they used to eat dinner and where he used to sleep.
Yeb and SaiI felt an eerie pang of familiar agony as the scene reminded me of the people in my own country who went through the most harrowing experience when Typhoon Haiyan left a wide swathe of devastation two years ago. This conversation with Sai also brought me back to the very start of this Pilgrimage, when in Vanuatu I listened to our friends from the Pacific who retold their stories of ordeal from Cyclone Pam with forlorn but with the mettle of people who will not take the climate crisis sitting down.
Radhika shares a special token with Yeb for his visit to Vizag
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