By chance, I was having a late dinner in Brooklyn with a Sri Lankan friend at the moment the tsunami struck Sri Lanka nine years ago today but we remained blissfully unaware of what had happened until the next morning. We also did not know at the time what had just happened to our mutual friend Sonali Deraniyagala and her family who were vacationing on a beach in Sri Lanka.
This is from NPR:
Economist Sonali Deraniyagala lost her husband, parents and two young sons in the terrifying Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. They had been vacationing on the southern coast of her home country Sri Lanka when the wave struck. Wave is her brutal but lyrically written account of the awful moment and the grief-crazed months after, as she learned to live with her almost unbearable losses — and allow herself to remember details of her previous life. In this scene, Deraniyagala revists both the house of her parents in Colombo, which has been emptied and closed up since the tsunami, and Yala National Park, where she was when the wave struck.
[Excerpt from 'Wave' By Sonali Deraniyagala:]
Someone had removed the brass plate with my father's name on it from the gray front wall. It had his name etched in black italics. I sat in the passenger seat of my friend Mary-Anne's car, my eyes clinging to the holes in the wall where that brass plate was once nailed.
This had been my parents' home in Colombo for some thirty-five years, and my childhood home. For my sons it was their home in Sri Lanka. They were giddy with excitement when we visited every summer and Christmas. Vik took his first steps here, and Malli, when younger, called the house “Sri Lanka.” And in our last year, 2004, when Steve and I had sabbaticals from our jobs and the four of us spent nine months in Colombo until September, this house was the hub of our children's lives.
This was where we were to return to on the afternoon of the twenty-sixth of December. My mother had already given Saroja, our cook, the menu for dinner. This was where they didn't come back to. Now, six months after the wave, I dared to set eyes on this house.
I was wary as I sat in Mary-Anne's car, which was parked by our front wall. I didn't want to look around. I was afraid of seeing too much. But I couldn't help myself, I peeked.