Monday, April 22, 2013
The day i met a champion
The Tsunami of Dec 2005 had just wreaked havoc in south east Asia and east coast of India. Some of the low lying islands of Andaman and Nicobar had borne the brunt very badly as well. A couple of weeks had elapsed since the Navy and civil administration began the task of rehabilitating the tribes of Nicobar by supplying them construction material and food grains. The islands that had been hit most severely in A&N chain were Hutbay in Andaman chain and Car Nicobar in southern chain. Car Nicobar is an apple shaped island with nearly flat geography. The sandy beaches and flat topography made it ideal for construction of a runway. Indian Air force has a good outpost here with facility to land the biggest aircrafts. But IAF also suffered major damages during the tsunami when waves as high as two storey building swept across the island. People were washed miles into the sea on the other side. My tiny Amphibious ship made the 2 day trip from Port Blair to Carnicobar with the tent, construction material and food supplies. My CO asked me to go ashore and inspect the damages and also meet the villagers. When I returned about 30 minutes later having surveyed the damages which weren’t significant in this particular village, I reported the same to my CO. Having spent the whole night keeping the watch at Bridge of the ship, I wanted to catch some sleep for we were to leave in the evening. That’s when my CO mentioned to me that someone from my school was onboard and sought to introduce me. I was surprised at first and then thought that it might be an Air Force officer from the Base on the island. As I entered his room, I noticed that it wasn’t a man with military bearings but a middle aged man of Mongloid features and stout body. I shook his hand as he introduced himself as Mr Thomas, the village captain (equivalent to Sarpanch). The puzzle quickly fell in place as flashes of school days appeared before my eyes. Several years back, the curious question everyone asked in front of the “Best Athlete” board in the Academic block was, how could this ‘P Thomas’ win the feat for 6 continuous years. The man was right before me and he did look a strong man at an age past 50. Mr Thomas, the school champion of several years had chosen to live in his very village in this quiet corner of the world. It was an overwhelming moment.