Usman Ahmad’s diaries
The day starts immediately after Fajr. I could have done with a little more sleep but given where I am and why I have come it would be churlish to complain. It has rained for a second night and the cool air gently wraps around our tired frames. The weather it seems is once again our friend, but in all honesty, the last thing that this region of the world needs right now is more water.
Basti Rindaan and Basti Sohrani are neighboring villages situated on the banks of the Indus. Almost everything here is destroyed except the spirit of the inhabitants which is resolute and firm. I am told that 6 ft of water inundated the town and spread for many kilometers. Houses were crushed and crops decimated by the racing waters. Piles of rubble and debris are all that remain. Huge cracks ravage the land and the scene is something I would associate more with an earthquake than a flood. The focus of the people is on the future. Over the years, the path of the river has slowly edged closer to their homes and is now only a few furlongs away. Many fear that they will not be able to live here much longer. A sense of uncertainty is palpable. Some want to move away immediately lest further floods strike, others want to remain in the short-term and temporarily rebuild what they have, while others still do not want to go at all. Their lives are intricately linked to each other and to the land making the process of arriving at any decision a fraught one. We distribute the gift packs we have brought and hold meetings in each of the village mosques. Bastin Rindaan – the larger of the two dwellings– has been struck by further tragedy. A day before our arrival one of their youth was killed by a snake bite while out hunting with his friends. He was only 17. A sense of melancholy and sadness prevails and is given physical expression by the pale glow of the morning light. The elders of the town sit huddled beneath a grand old tree lamenting this senseless loss of life. We meet with the father of the deceased and express our condolences. His tenacity and the tenderness of his embrace in the face of total devastation are disarming. It is at once unbearable and inspiring and fills me with a range of ambiguous emotions. Continue reading