An un-habitable ghost town with silent streets and dilapidated structures with a backdrop of white sand and grey-blue skies encompassing an eerie stillness of the emptiness subdued by the sound of deep tidal waves. It was at night when I sat along the blue oceans on Palk Strait at the end of the Indian land to roam around my beautiful home and unleash its beauty. But my friend says, “I am still stuck onto the same place, same day, same time taking me back to when it all started.”
A busy, bustling small port town, also stated as mythological land where Lord Rama and his Vanara Sena built Ram Setu, across the sea connecting Rameswaram Island (Tamil Nadu) and Munnar Island (Sri Lanka), to rescue his wife. After saving his wife Sita, Lord Ram destroyed the bridge with arrows from his bow, thus the name of the town became ‘Dhanushkodi’, meaning ‘end of bow’, now occupied by the traders along the port and pilgrims unveiling its mythological origin, visitors traveling through the most dangerous railway line, over the ocean, crossing my best friend, Pamban, the bridge, the oldest and longest bridge before Worli-sea link.
It was the time of Christmas bells when the town sparks with the happiness of beach sounds, birds, and humans and children chirping around, gifting each other, singing and celebrating. I was only 250 years with my body standing as a grand three-storied structure, beholding around the activities and laughing with the neighbours. A grand arched entrance flanked with two lamp posts on either side welcoming the visitors along the central aisle focusing their attention directly onto the high altar of Jesus Christ. What fascinates me the most is the mix of materials and especially the combination of old Portuguese and new Gothic elements. As my body was decorated with arched openings and finely sculpted balustrades, the visitors usually say, “Churches are never the places I liked to be at, but it somehow has this strong smell of being very old.” Which wants me to still mesmerize the good old days!
I panicked as a wave hit me in my face. Muṭṭāḷ! I saw my friend, Pamban sitting beside me and splashing the water on me just like the old days. He makes me sad, for making me lose the friendship I admired the most! I hate him! But he sat calmly listening to me. I could not stop, he smiled and said ‘Pēcu’. What? Oh! you will need subtitles for my Tamil cum English story. By the way, Pēcu means ‘speak’.
It was 56 years ago in 1964, December 22, when I was asleep and Pamban came shouting “Uyir piḻaikka ōṭu.”. Again? It means “Run for your life!” Trying to open my old eyes, he shook me hard to say “the Alaikaḷ, the tidal waves……….” and ran away. I tried to follow him but it got me paralyzed to what I saw coming towards me.
A massive cyclone swirling across the town with winds gusting up. It was hard to see all my friends, neighbours, and visitors getting marooned by the cyclone. I tried to move but my old heavy body didn’t support me. The high waves moved deep into the island and ruined the entire town.
After a couple of hours, when the waves calmed, I was aghast to see bloated bodies around, the entire town then stood as a dilapidated strip of land, just as it has stayed to this day.
Declared, unfit for living by the government, it was then renamed as a ghost town. The only sound you can hear is the scream of the dead souls or the chatter of the migrant birds or eagles cursing or encircling the muddy island.
“I curse myself to be the only surviving soul of the disaster.” I cried.
“You know what happened that day Anthony. The reason I ran away! On that night, while entering the railway station, a daily passenger train from Pamban with 110 passengers and 5 railway staff, was hit by a massive tidal wave.” said Pamban.
“Ām!!! Yes, yes! You were trying to save me and failed to inform the Master railway station about the cyclone. You tried contacting me and the master but the signal failed a few meters ahead of the station.”
“I then blew a long whistle and decided to take the risk of letting the train move. But minutes later, Anthony, you know the entire train was submerged by a huge tidal wave leaving no survivors, not even me,” said Pamban.
“Why do you repeat it every other day Pamban? I want to talk to you and apologize for being a coward!”
“You need to release that day and bid me goodbye. I want you to leave this quarantine of contagious thoughts and serve those few fishermen who still call this abandoned ghost town as their home,” whispered Pamban beside me and disappeared.
3 thoughts on “QUARANTINED FOREVER”
Nice way to narrate a story.
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Very intriguing. Good work!
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Thanks a lot 😁