On August 17 this year, Sajitha Jabil’s house at Aluva in Kochi was filled with happiness. It was her son Subhan’s first birthday. But what made the anniversary more special was the story of survival behind it. The same time last year, when a deluge took the entire state of Kerala in its grip, a nine-month pregnant Sajitha (with Subhan), instead of being in the safe environment of a hospital, was battling floodwaters to save her life and that of her children at her in-laws house in Chovvara Kondotti in Eranakulam district.
Sajitha, 26, still recalls that day with horror. “On August 15, 2018, when water started flooding our house, we were asked to move to a safer place as it was raining heavily and it was dangerous to stay there,” says Sajitha,cradling Subhan in her arm.
Sajitha along with her family was rescued and taken to the Hidayathul Islam Mosque in Chovvara Kondotti, which acted as a relief camp during the floods. “The rains were scary. Water started entering the mosque where we had taken shelter. I saw death in front of my eyes. But I wasn’t bothered about myself, I was worried about my two children and the one in the womb,” Sajitha says. “But when my water broke, I panicked. It was flooded everywhere and there was no way I could get out,” she adds.
Sajitha along with her family stayed in a relief camp with more than 600 people. “There was a nurse among them who took care of me. I knew I had to get out of the mosque and get proper medical help if I had to get my child delivered. But seeing the water around me, I panicked. We called out for help.”
Finding no other option, Sajitha’s family sought the Navy’s help which was working in rescue operations, to take her to a hospital. In a few hours, a Navy helicopter was sent to rescue her. “They could not find us in the beginning. To get their attention, we had to scream out from the terrace of the building. Finally, I was taken out. I cannot even explain what I went through. I was in pain and scared to death, but I wanted to get out and save my child,” Sajitha says shuddering at the memory of that moment.
Although the floods this year haven’t affected her house, Sajitha, empathises with others who have borne the brunt of the deluge and those who have lost property and dear ones.
She feels indebted to those who helped her in her time of crisis. “I want to thank the entire group of people who helped me. The people in my relief camp including Usha, and doctor Shimna. Shimna and I are in touch over calls. Officers of the navy, especially naval officer Mahesh, to the staff at Naval Base Hospital, I am grateful to all of them for coming to my aid” she says.
Exactly a year later, many who helped Sajitha in her ordeal last year, were there at her house to celebrate Subhan’s birthday. But in the midst of happiness and joy, Sajitha has just one worry. “The floods are back to scare people and wreak more havoc. I just don’t want others to suffer like me,” she says looking at Subhan who quietly enjoys the pitter-patter of rain.