Karibeeran Paramesvaran can never forget 26th December – it’s his birthday, but he has not celebrated it for the past 12 years. That morning in 2004 at 8am, he and 10 of his relatives who visited them for Christmas celebrations, had walked down to Nagapattinam beach, just 600 metres from his house.
His 3 children – daughters Rakshanya (12 yrs old), Karuyna (9 yrd Old), and son Kirubasan (5 yrs old) – like all children loved playing by the nearby sea.
As reported by BBC news, Mr Paramesvaran was throwing a frisbee to his son when suddenly he saw Kirubasan’s face freeze with fear and try to run away from beach. He turned around he saw a huge wave – the size of almost two palm trees – heading towards his children from the ocean. It is a moment that he has relived time and time again in pain and agony remembering their children. He goes numb whenever he speaks about those moments, watch the video:
“I reached out for my only son, I held his hand firmly for as long as I could but the waves were too strong for me. Eventually he slipped out of my hands into the water.” He then pauses for a moment. “I failed my son, as his father I should have been able to protect him from drowning.”, cries parameshvaran.
Mr Paramesvaran was swept away from his family by the heavy waves ignited by the earth quake. He felt he was going to die, but he somehow managed to cling on to a palm tree for five minutes and he survived. He then rushed to his home to see if he could find his children. His wife Churamani, who had been cooking to celebrate his birthday, told him there was no sign of them.
He rushed back to the beach to try and find them. On the railway track, he found the lifeless body of his elder daughter Rakshanya who just a few hours earlier had bought him a cup of tea in the morning and wished him happy birthday appa. With the little strength he had left, he carried her back to the house.
Over the next few hours, he ran tirelessly near beach for his other daughter and son. Out of the 11 people who went to the beach that fateful morning, he was the only one who had survived, as reported by BBC news.
That night, he had and his wife buried their 3 children. “It is something no parent should have to do,” he cries. He wanted to dig a grave individually for each of them. But he did not have the strength so he buried them in single grave, one upon other.
He wanted to throw himself also into the grave, as he lost all his children and a few days later asked his wife to buy him some poison. All he could see, he says, was the face of his son slipping away out of his hands into the water. “How could I live when the sea had taken all my three children?” he says.
But 12 years on, he is still here. He has 2 children now but looks after many more orphans. The way he has survived is by helping others. In his area alone more than 60 children lost their parents during that fateful morning and his wife told him that they had to try and help the orphans. Initially they took in four children – three girls and a boy.
Now they live with more than 35 children staying with them in their home which has been renamed the Nambikkai (Hands of Hope).
The house is now full of laughter and life. As the children play running around her, Churamani says, “People say we have helped these orphans, but they have helped us live. Without them, we would have ended our lives blaming each other for what happened.”
God restores what we lost in great measure, today they are a happy family sharing their testimony across the state and country. God Bless Mr. Parameshvaran.