Hi, I’m Dipen from Dhubri. Dhubri? Assam? Still doesn’t ring a bell? Well, it’s okay. Not many people know about my town. Dhubri is a small town on the banks of river Brahmaputra in western Assam. The Brahmaputra defines our town. It is around ten kilometers wide here. We don’t have a bridge to cross it yet but there is one proposed, almost 19 kilometres long. It is going to be India’s longest bridge. On completion, you will know Dhubri, at least through a general knowledge question.
There is a bond between the Brahmaputra and me. The river has given me and my family everything in life. My father is a ferry driver and has spent his entire life working on the river. This is the bright side of life. Every year, during the rainy season, the dark side of life takes over and everything goes under water. This year, the pandemic made it worse. I’ve never witnessed a pandemic before but I have seen how deadly this river could be.
It was about two weeks back when the water started flooding the town. The houses were all filled with water. It was almost knee-high. I had water borne rashes all over my body; it was awful. Things went out of hand a few days back when it started raining heavily, and I mean really heavily. Overnight the water level crossed the waist-level. We could no longer live inside our home. My family and I were now sitting on the sloppy roof of our house. We didn’t eat anything that day and we had run out of drinking water as well. It was me who took the last few gulps. It was very painful up there but we had no other choice. There was a strange silence on the roof. The eyes spoke their own story but the lips were tight. My 8-year-old sister asked,“We never did anything bad, then why God is mad at us?” And the silence continued, no one speaking anything.
As the sun went down, so did our spirit. Then we heard the sound of motorboats piercing the silence. Finally the rescuers were here. Their orange vests read-“NDRF”. I don’t know what that means, but I am sure that’s the synonym for angels. And yes, God was not mad at us after all.
It’s been a couple of days now at the relief camp. My parents’ lifelong hardship, our house, and everything else is submerged under water; we don’t have anything left now. All I do is sit in front of relief camp’s TV in the hope of getting some news about our Assam, but all I see is politics in Rajasthan and Bollywood. I wish our lives also mattered too.
Are we all in this together? I thought we were.