A young woman explores the melody of cyclone-hit villages of the Sunderbans

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Forest of Tides


Manisha Sobhrajani

A lone heron struggled to find a safe perch, flapping its wings helplessly against the strong winds that were threatening to blow away trees, uproot mangroves, capsize boats and destroy everything that came in their way. People ran helter-skelter, unsure whether they should try to save the humble thatch-roofs of their tiny houses, the meagre goods they owned, or their paddy and potatoes, which they needed for survival for the rest of the year. But the wind and the rain seemed determined to destroy everything. I was cooped up in my room, in an unfamiliar place, unable to decide what sounded more dangerous: the eerie wind as it howled through the village, the crash of a falling tree, the hull of a boat dashing against the concrete and steel of the jetty, or the collective sounds of panic emanating from birds, beasts and humans alike. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Perhaps this was nature’s not-so-subtle way of initiating me into the Sunderbans.