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We don't want to venture into sea again: fisherwomen

By Deepa H. Ramakrishnan

— Photo : T. Singaravelou

Victims of Pattinacheri, plead for relief, at a camp in Karaikal. — Photo : T. Singaravelou

KARAIKAL, DEC. 30. The fisherfolk of Pattinacheri in Karaikal Pondicherry, one of the tsunami-hit areas in the Union Territory, don't want to go back to their traditional jobs. ``We are afraid to go back to the sea. We don't want our husbands to go fishing as the sea is dangerous. Most of us are educated but don't have jobs and instead are forced to depend on the sea for our living," say the women of Pattinacheri, who are presently in a relief camp at a temple.

The women told The Hindu as they were waiting for the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had planned to meet them but couldn't due to inclement weather.

A young girl Amuda, who lost her mother, grandfather and younger sisters on Sunday, has completed BA English literature but does not have any job. "The government does not give us jobs because they say we have the sea to depend on. But now even the sea has let us down, where will we go", she asked as other women gathered around her.

``The Government tells us that we earn a lot and so we should not expect jobs from them. But then do they know how dangerous the sea is. Every day when our husbands go to the sea, we don't know if they will come back. And now, the situation has only worsened,'' says Pushpa, who has completed her SSLC.

The women are traumatised and afraid to go back to the place where their homes were earlier located. They fear the water will come back and take away their near and dear ones. Almost all the families have lost somebody. Kuppamma, who lost both her children to the waves, sobs uncontrollably as she remembers what happened on that fateful day.

``I saw the water and immediately carried my two-year-old son and caught my 5-year-old daughter's hand and started running. But a runaway boat came and hit me with such force that I let go of my children and that was it. I didn't see them after that.``

``She has been crying for the past 5 days and hasn't eaten a single morsel of food since she came here and is very week. All she can think is about her children,'' says Jaya, who has been trying to console her. Jaya hasn't lost any of her family but is sad about the loss of her home and all her belongings. "For how many days will we go on like this? We want to go back to new homes", she says.

Thinking about Sunday sends shivers down 75-year-old Anjamma's spine. The woman, who lost her granddaughter, narrating the harrowing incident said, ``I heard that water had entered the village and started running but was soon engulfed by it.'' My clothes came off and I drank in a lot of salt water as I half ran and half swam to safety,'' she said.

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