A view from the sea

Published : Jan 28, 2005 00:00 IST

in Arattupuzha

IT is a natural reaction. Nowadays, every time they turn towards the west, fishermen at Valiazheekkal in Arattupuzha living near the Kayamkulam estuary throw furtive glances at the two breakwaters jutting out into the Arabian Sea.

Four times on December 26, the barriers built into the sea (as part of the proposed Kayamkulam harbour project) to break the force of waves rose suddenly, only to be submerged fully some time later, even as the sea receded and flooded, again and again, before the disaster struck.

To those living at the edge of the village, the changing moods of the breakwaters would from now on also serve as a sign of another freak tsunami. So would a receding estuary and the huge fish in it, wriggling up and down, inviting fishermen to catch them if they can.

The awesome fury of the final wave that came from the southwest was first spent on the huge boulders of the two breakwaters before it devastated Arattupuzha.

Curiously, to those few fishermen far out at sea on that fateful Sunday when it swelled, the entire coast seemed to have disappeared all on a sudden. Moorings blurred. Those who were beyond the coastline did not realise that the sea was rising, according to Sreenivasan and Sivadutt, fishermen from Arattupuzha and Alappad, which face each other across the estuary.

Sreenivasan said that some of his mates who were out fishing at the time of the big wave were shocked to see "an uneven line of palm-leaves where the coastline used to be a few minutes earlier."

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