the gallant13 years old D/o an Indian Air Force Officer posted at Car Nicobar, survived the killer Tsunami for 3 days at the Kakana coast in Car Nicobar.
The mystery unfolds further…
The gallant daughter of late Indian Air Force Officer, Squadron Leader Raj Shekhar, Meghna was swept out to sea along with her father, her mother, younger brother and 77 others. While the others drowned she floated for two days on a wooden door plank.
On 26 December 2004 morning, 35 feet high gargantuan waves of the catastrophic Tsunami struck the Indian Air Force Base in Car Nicobar. She was washed away in the ocean with her parents. She cried 11 times when rescue helicopters hovered over the Andaman Sea in search of feebly possible survivors. After two and a half days, the door plank on which she was clinging drifted towards the shore. She was swarmed by snakes and suffered severe bruises. She was found walking in a daze by the local Nicobarese tribal people of Car Nicobar, one of whom helped her reach the Indian Air Force airport on his damaged bicycle.
Her parents, however, were not spared by the 35 feet high wave which destroyed the air base. She was sent to Hyderabad to stay with an uncle, her closest living relative.
Meghna trembled visibly when she sighted her favorite coffee mug in the rubble that had once been her home on the Car Nicobar Island. "I want to see my home," the 14-year-old girl said on reaching the remote Island on 26th December 2005 for a memorial service for the 119 Indian Air Force personnel and their relatives who died on December 26, 2004.
I still have vivid memories of her graphic interview that we watched on NDTV on the 29 December, 2004, sitting in the verandah of our house at Port Blair as we didn’t dare to go indoors due to the unrelenting series of hundreds of aftershocks of the massive earthquake. My eyes are invariably filled with tears every time I reminisce about it.
Meghna was so astonishingly eloquent about her unimaginably horrendous experience of the fiasco. "I remember seeing choppers passing overhead 11 times and several times relief planes passed but they did not spot me and finally a wave threw me back on the shore," Meghna said. The badly-bruised girl was found 20 kilometers (12 miles) from her wrecked home two & a half days later.
"I fought off sea snakes to stay alive and today I want to see my home for the last time," the 9th -grader said.
"Hey, my bangle… and… Oh! Here's, dad's shoes!" she said of her father, an Indian Air Force meteorologist.
"I've found my coffee mug... mom used to fill to the brim with milk," Meghna whispered after picking up a bone-china cup filled with snails and sea garbage.
Following medical treatment, Meghna was handed over to her grandparents in the southern city of Hyderabad where she was enrolled in a boarding school.
"During holidays I go and spend time with anyone I like," she said pointing to surviving Indian Air Force officers and their families attending the service. "They are my fathers and mothers. I love them as much as they love me," she said, tears staining her flowing white shirt.
The girl said she was determined to write a book about her spine-tingling ordeal.
"I have already completed two and a half chapters of my experience and I want to record the experience of others in the rest of my book but first I want to complete my studies."
Commander Salil Mehta, a former colleague of Meghna's father, was at her side like a shadow. "It takes guts to come back to a location of such unimaginable tragedy," said Mehta, unable to conceal his own emotions as Meghna tugged at the sleeves of his ceremonial naval uniform jacket.
The 18-year-old went into a shell the day she also gave up collecting butterflies. It was the day the tsunami struck their home and took away her parents and eight-year-old brother.
Five years after the tragedy, now, the emotions she can’t speak about may yet find release. Every night before going to bed, Meghna sits at her desk in her hostel to pour her emotions into a diary. Some day she might get it published.
Meghna had been a curious child. She had got up early that Sunday morning for some “fishing and for collecting butterflies and insects” for her “zoological collections” when the waves came.
She spent the next two days and nights alone on the beach surrounded by the dead, turning them over one after another to see if her parents and brother were among them.
A year on from then, the news channel ‘Aaj Tak’ telecasted another interview of the brave-heart… The teenager seemed to have coped somewhat as she finished her exams, refusing to let the tragedy cost her a year. But she’s turned a loner. “She doesn’t watch movies; she won’t even accompany her classmates to picnics,” a teacher said. “She is afraid of the waves; she sometimes has hallucinations.”
I take my hat off to the exemplarily gallant Meghna Rajshekhar who can undeniably be considered a true idol for all the children the world over. It was her late father’s prudent teachings and upbringing that helped her understand the nature of the waves, sea creatures like snakes, flow of the wind and the position of the constellation of the stars in the sky to her life-saving advantage in such unheard-of adverse conditions. And, of course, the supremely brave composure that’s the benchmark attribute of the daughter of a valiant Air Force officer.
God bless her!!!