Ramya Pandyan looking up at a larger-than-life stone statue of an Apsara embedded into a wall.

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  1. I read this post when it was first published, and it has lived in my head rent-free since then.

    Reason? I did not experience these floods, but my mother did. She didn’t do as long a trek as you did, but she did do some of it. Being tiny (5 foot something negligible) and over 50, she fell ill as a result of all the trudging and cold and wet. In the ensuing weeks, she got typhoid, was misdiagnosed with malaria, and almost died as a result.

    Whenever I think of those floods, my blood runs cold even though she’s sitting right in front me 18 years later. When I read this post, my blood ran cold even though you were one message, one phone call away.

    I’ve only been able to write this comment, because I sent your post to my mother. And she smiled and says: “Ramya is such a great writer. Every sentence you read makes you want to read the next.” And finally that spell has broken.

    Thank goodness you are both safe. Phew.

    1. @Karishma: My dear, dear friend, I am so sorry to have reminded you both of such a traumatic time. I didn’t mention a number of the other sights I saw and heard about later, of schoolchildren being stranded in buses while the drivers ran away, of an elderly blind neighbor on the ground floor who was carried upstairs just before drowning, of the many people who were physically much less able to survive this incident than I (young, tall) had just about managed.

      There were also other class differences. I didn’t see one single cop or traffic personnel helping; it was all regular citizens. South Bombay didn’t suffer the same floods and all the powers-that-be were holed up safe in their homes complaining about the power cuts. Still, this city pulled itself together and helped each other. That was the only thing I took away from the experience.

      I am really glad that aunty was able to get through this ordeal. Please thank her for being willing to read this, despite it likely bringing back difficult memories for me.

      And always, lots of love.

      1. Like I said, I’m so grateful you are both still here today. Y’all make the world (my world) brighter. <3