Kerala has forty-four rivers and carries in it eight percent of all waterways in India. Lined with natural and artificial canals, lakes and estuaries known as the Backwaters, water has always played a heavy role in the daily life of those who lived by Kerala’s many shores. Though brackish, the Backwaters are the lifeblood of the state’s booming tourism and agriculture industries.
When the monsoon rains came this year, the rivers of Kerala broke their banks and ravaged the farms and homes of its people. The water rose and washed along a trail of devastation that is still yet to be fully calculated. As observers we watched day after day as the story of suffering, strife and chaos was shared one image at a time. These images, in reality are only half of the story.
The photo I have shared above captures the second half of that story and the essence of the Keralite people. It is an image of Jai, my right hand man and overall problem solver for my tours in Kerala. He and his young daughter are pictured on a calm, still lake about three days ago. It was a very personal triumph for him to have his family back at the water’s edge, enjoying their day together. Life was not completely back to normal, but as long as there was a sense of normality to it, everything else would flow into place again.
Like the rivers, returning to their beds, so does life fall to its normal rhythms in this south Indian state of Kerala. Limping slightly perhaps, a little muddy, a little changed, nevertheless life is returning. That is a testimony to the resilience of its people.