Tsunami ‘Survivor’

I sat in the tiny one bedroom apartment staring out at a world that was not mine. The curtains were a continental blue, the checked pattern matching that of the green synthetic sheets on the bed. The walls were a custard cream melting into the dirty floor. The Land Lady had said, “Now you can decorate the room to your heart’s content dear, do whatever you like with it!” But what could I do? I had no photos to document my life along the walls by. No ornaments or objects of personal value. Nothing. Nothing to prove that I had existed anywhere at any time other than here. This was it. Not a fresh start, but a life time snatched away by the cracks and fragmentation of the Earth, followed by the rinsing of our country. In the news they said the wave was thirty feet high. That’s a foot for every two years of my life. When they rescued me, I was found clinging onto a piece of roof that I had caught when the wave had ripped our house apart. It was the only thing I had left, my final possession, and it was a fucking scrap of roofing. Watching it drift away as I climbed onto the boat, I thought to myself, “Who am I? What life am I living for now? Everything and everyone I care about is gone.” I know you’ll probably think I’m being ungrateful, but looking back on the life that I had, my wife, family, friends, job, home… And looking at the vast emptiness that elongates every minute I now have to endure, it seems to me that that rescue team did nothing to save me. If I’d have died out there at sea, at least I would have joined those that I love. Instead I am forced to live on and grieve for them. People say how lucky I must feel to have survived, that I must be so grateful. Someone even told me that a Guardian Angel must be watching over me. I remember smiling politely and nodding. These people who pat me on the back and give thanks for my survival are parasites to my grief. They do not know me, my life or my loss. They are thriving on my tragedy, reassuring themselves with the story of my survival to justify their gossip. In the news they speak of numbers, counting the dead and injured, and I listen as the people I once knew by names become numbers tallied in charts. For those in the ground the tsunami is over. But I am still fighting and feeling the waters ripping my world apart.

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