ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44

One woman's karma

All Nanda could remember was the wall of water coming towards the bus. Next she found herself clinging onto a tree. The water had retreated as suddenly as it had appeared. Nanda's three children who had been with her a few minutes before had disappeared along with the wave. It was a nightmare that was beyond anything a human being could fathom. That was more than two years ago but Nanda's desperate search continued.

"Your son. His stars are very powerful. He is definitely alive," the astrologer's voice trailed on. Nanda had spent the year after the deadly tsunami that ravaged the costal areas of the country looking for her children, going first from one camp to another where displaced people were being housed. Finding no leads there, she turned to prayer going from one temple to another, making vows in hope of getting a wish fulfilled. Then there were numerous astrologers whom she visited asking the same question. "Are my children alive?" It was one such astrologer she consulted who hinted her son may be alive. And like a drowning woman clutching at straw she was clinging onto even the tiniest shred of hope.

That fateful day, the sun had shone bright. Nanda and her two daughters and son boarded a bus bound for the next village to visit her sick mother. With a husband who had abandoned her soon after the birth of her third child, her children had been the silver lining in her otherwise bleak life.

Nanda woke early the morning after her visit to the astrologer. She was headed to a town where the astrologer said he could see signs of her son. Carrying a parcel of boiled rice and dry fish curry, Nanda began the five hour journey. Once again she was on the move. Seated by a window, Nanda's mind wondered to the memories of her children calling out to her. "Amma, Amma," they would call out to her numerous times a day. It was the sweetest sound hearing her children call out to her. How they loved to go to the beach and play in the sand. But she never trusted the sea. There was something untrustworthy about the sea. Its beauty and calmness seemed to hide a deep deception. And that fateful day Nanda's deep distrust of the sea had proven correct. It showed no mercy to anyone or anything. The young, the old, the weak, the strong, the beautiful, the crippled. It spared no one.

It was mid morning when the bus reached its destination. She got off the bus and walked towards the sacred Buddhist temple that was revered by thousands of devotees. As she walked towards it, her eyes combed though the faces of young children in the vicinity. She looked at the faces of the young ones to see if her son was among them. Unfamiliar faces stared back at her. She reached the stone steps of the temple and began to climb them. Nanda reached the inside chamber and fell on her knees in worship at the feet of the massive stone image of the Buddha. Realisation began to dawn on Nanda. She would never see her children again. They were gone forever. The tears began to pour down her face. As she mourned her children, the serene face of the Buddha seemed to look down her. She prayed that in her next birth she would be reunited with her children. Till then she would tread this earth alone and suffer her karma. She could not escape her fate. No one could.

- By Chandani Kirinde


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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.