The Shinigami’s Call – The Kerala Floods in Retrospect

Harisankar Menon | DoC Manipal | Staff Blogger

I remember my childhood, running around the lush green backyard of my grandparents’ house; my cousins at my heels, all of us ecstatic and breathing heavily owing to the continuous running that is part and parcel of ‘Cops n Robbers’, quite the sensational game among kids my age then, especially from where I hail. A place known for its mesmerizing and diverse landscape, a land where were the streets are laced with the enticing scent of spices sauted in oil that originates from the sky high abode of the tree they’re withheld in, a land where all religions live in harmony ,a land where people take pride in believing themselves to be the best in whatever they do, a land called ‘God’s Own Country’ – Kerala. My Home.

We, the people of Kerala – Malayalees or Mallus as we are often referred to as are known to be warm beings with a tinge of ego for all the good our home is blessed with. It could be that we got too obsessed with our ego, but for some reason, the God that owned the country of Kerala decided one day that we were a liability to hold onto hence gave it to another God. The Shinigami. (A Death-God in Japanese Lore) 

In a span of less than a week, the Shinigami did his work religiously and took 500 members of our family away. When one person dies, it’s a death, but as the numbers cross two digits it escalates to a tragedy, but when they get to three digits, a certain emotion of hopelessness takes stage in the heart of everyone there. It was a point beyond the measurable quantities of emotions that the human mind is usually capable of. We always hear of news like 400 people killed in Iraq or Somalia. Sure,we might feel a second of sadness acknowledging it, but at the end of the day, we all go to sleep without even the slightest shiver of empathy for them and think that the world is a very sad place if we go for all the ‘negatives.’ So we just move on with our life. Its only when something of the similar sort happen to us that we truly realize the magnitude of pain it injects to our mind,a magnitude beyond measure, that we truly feel like all hope is lost and it’s the end of the world, a state of jeopardy that teaches us lessons. There was a point where I couldn’t talk to my parents for about 2 days. Those 2 days taught me more about life than all the philosophy videos I’d plead guilty of watching to get different perspectives on life.

My mind had to take this ‘real’ perspective first-hand, a perspective that I can only by a far stretch try to associate with the phrase – “Shit just got real”.

I did contemplate on my life, how it were to be if for some reason God forbid, the Shinigami tried his hand at my parents too. But I guess,he decided to let them be. People I’ve seen my entire life were taken away. They may not be my childhood friends, but even then, when the devastating news of their demise came, it did shook me to the core. They’re just gone. Forever. I was speaking to my mother a couple of days after the floods had ended, I recollect her telling me about the change in the attitude of the people. Nobody honked horns anymore at traffic signals, people started caring for each other more, supporting everyone around them regardless of their economic, social or religious background. The damage has been caused, the 700 crores we were blessed to have raised thanks to so many good people out there may help with the rebuilding the state from ground up, but money isn’t going to bring lives back. This maybe a tragic topic to remember, but I’d choose to remember those days as a lecture on life, a lecture that is to be remembered for a lifetime – lessons that forced us into understanding what it is to be a human being and no matter what or who you are and what you own, none of it matters in the end, only love and care for each other remains when the Shinigami chooses to smile at you, something as inevitable as time itself.

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