After 100 long years when the torrential rains hit you, we were all taken aback. The deluge swept off every bit that it could except for the one thing that it couldn’t- your spirit, the spirit of Chennai. I am writing this letter because you have taken my heart. In a world where self-interest and “I” reign over every being, I was amazed to see that such a deluge couldn’t shake the humanity of Chennai.
Every act of humanity during the floods shook me from within. It shook my conscience. It shook my selfishness. It shook the “I” within me.
When I saw the picture of Radha, who braved chest-level waters to deliver the milk to her customers, I realized something. I realized she was a human first and then a milk lady.
When I saw the fisherman, helping people commute to the safer areas without expecting anything in return, I realized something. I realized they were human beings first and then fishermen by profession.
When I read about 73 year old Mr. Katambale, who donated 5000 despite having taken a loan of 25000 due to the drought-stricken year; I realized something. I realized he was a human first and a then a farmer striving hard to earn his living.
When I saw every person whether poor or rich, opening the doors of their homes for people in need; I realized something. I realized they were human beings first and their status in society comes later.
When I read about Hindus taking refuge in mosques and Muslims cleaning temples; I realized something. I realized that they were human beings first and their religions came later.
When I saw the celebrities volunteering frantically to help the people stuck in floods, I realized something. They were humans first and celebrities later.
Radha and other milk vendors who did not fail to deliver milk despite the deluge, could have stayed back and not risked their lives. The fishermen who helped people commute without a second thought could have stayed back for the fear of damaging their boats. Mr. Katambale who donated 5000 could have saved it for repaying his loan. The poor could have managed with what they have, without thinking about others in need. The celebrities could have shifted to a safer place instead of volunteering to serve people in affected areas.
But ‘No’. None of you did. You came out fighting all the odds, burying all your religious and class distinctions and rising higher than the waters that covered the city. Only you could have done it Chennai.
I am writing this letter to salute the power of love and humanity, of which you are an epitome. I am not a Chennaite but I am a human. Your humanity has touched me and I am burning with the spirit of Chennai, The spirit of humanity.
Thank you Chennai.
P.S – “Spirit of Chennai” directed by Vikram is a beautiful song which encompasses the selfless spirit of the people of Chennai. I decided to make my heart a part of the ‘humanity’ and hence I write this letter of gratitude to you Chennai. You will be an inspiration for millions of others like me for ages to come.