Touria Prayag's Blog

One tragedy, one nation Par Touria Prayag 5 Avril 2013

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on September 15, 2013

The country buried 11 of its dead this week, some of whom were still in the prime of their youth. Families were decimated. The bitter taste of the two kids who ran to rescue their aunt – who was selling sundries in the Caudan tunnel and never came back to tell the tale – is still in our mouths. Pangs of sadness creep in deep down to the pit of our stomachs when we hear the echoes of those screaming voices being swept away by the deadly current. And the funerals. One after another.

 

A traumatised nation, plunged into deep sorrow, is licking its wounds, some of which will never ever heal. In an élan of solidarity, the whole country came together to help those affected by the murderous floods. Mauritians turned up in large numbers, irrespective of their race, creed, colour or political affiliation. They stood as one, united their efforts and managed to bring some relief to those who badly needed it.

 

The lives of those who are gone cannot, sadly, be brought back. But the country used the opportunity to show to what extent we can really be one nation when we want. To what extent we can shut ourselves off from the calculated, interested and opportunistic – verging on the indecent – talk of politicians. On the one hand, the government puts the blame squarely on Mother Nature without taking any of the responsibility. On the other, some vociferous members of the opposition are trying to be wise after the event with the rehashed hollow comments about how great things were when they were in power. Such vitriol on both sides is unfair and even insulting to a population going through the worst possible days in its recent history. When emotions are high, politicians should put their political survival and ambitions behind people’s feelings. For a change.

 

The tragic events gave us the opportunity to find out what we are as a people. Sadly, not everything we found out about ourselves is flattering. When the opportunity calls for it and the country is in grief, we rise to the challenge and forget about our differences. Giving becomes a way for us to reach catharsis. However, our help and generosity are not always disinterested. And, unfortunately, many of us made a big show of our acts and used all the means available to make sure we were seen giving. Others, who were not struck by the flash flood in any way, opportunistically did everything they could to get help they did not deserve.

 

And, just like no politician took responsibility for what happened. Just as government ministers did what they do best – pass the buck – and opposition members jumped on people’s grief to thump their chest about a past which was no better. Just as they did not question themselves about their responsibility in the tragic events, neither did we. None of us managed to ask ourselves about our share of the responsibility in what happened. Yet, we all have one. Whether we are conscious of it or not.

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