The sky is dark outside. The rains have been pelting down, cats, dogs and heifers. The offspring has been summarily dispatched to school, and the maternal heart is guilt tripping itself over why one had to be quite so heartless. To rub salt into the lashings, the mater called to inflict further sting into the wounds. “Have you sent him to school today?” she asked, her voice dripping with grandmotherly concern that manages to simultaneously inflict guilt as well. When I confirmed that I had indeed packed him off, water bottle and tiffin boxes duly filled, to school, she sighed dramatically.
“How will he come back?”
Errm. “The same way I came back from school when it rained, Mom!” I replied.
The offspring too, is rather determined that he be left to his own devices. The last time the city got drowned out and I went to fetch him, he ticked me off sternly at the school gate itself for assuming he couldn’t make his way back home through the flooded streets.
“Why did you come? I would have managed,” he told me through gritted teeth, looking around embarrassed, in the event his friends noted his mother had come to pick him up. There would be hell to pay in terms of teasing the next day, I would imagine.
As I write this, there are boys stuck in a cave in Thailand, they had been stuck there for 14 days, all hope of finding them had been lost until they were discovered stuck on a ledge, deep inside, with their coach. They had wandered into the caves after a practice session with their coach and monsoon flooding cut them off. They survived by licking the rain water off the walls of the caves. Their survival itself is a miracle. They don’t know how to swim. An international team of divers and experts have been working to get the boys and their coach out, four of them were out, after a 11-hour marathon effort. They were brought food and letters from their parents. One diver died in the rescue attempt, after delivering oxygen canisters to the boys. Each child of the four rescued was escorted out by two divers, a mission that lasted hours.
This is a rescue story in real life that could rival anything Hollywood could think up. It is a story that has someone like me, who suffers from panic attacks in closed dark spaces, and who cannot swim, feel her heart constrict every time she sees a 3D animation of the route the divers have to take. In zero visibility. To quote Anmar Mirza, national coordinator of the National Cave Rescue Mission, "You can't make a horror movie that would even compare... I've been involved in cave rescues for 30 years and I cannot even think of one that is this complicated."
"You can't make a horror movie that would even compare... I've been involved in cave rescues for 30 years and I cannot even think of one that is this complicated." -Anmar Mirza
Why do I think of these boys as I write this? I think of them because they have shown such amazing resilience it brings tears to my eyes. I think of their parents and what I would have done if it were my offspring stuck there, down in the bowels of the earth, in a flooded cave that I couldn’t drive through to get him home. The panic I have when a road is flooded is nothing to what those parents must be facing right now, knowing where their children are and being absolutely helpless to get them out. The waiting is what kills one, the uncertainty, the not knowing. And all these bolstered by the hope that all will be well, there will be a safe rescue, after all there’s a team of 90 divers from around the world on the mission, and the prayers of all those watching this on their television screens. Elon Musk is even testing out a kid-sized submarine to figure out if it can be deployed to get the children out, one by one.
As I write this the second mission to rescue the remaining boys begins. The authorities estimate that the rescue this time will take less time than the first attempt. Cave divers tell us about the risk of diving in cramped muddy waters even for them, a thousand times over for untrained, weak, panic-stricken children. A mistake is death. The odds of mistakes and panic, infinite, with young untrained children.
That the divers will go in, risk their lives, time and time again to help save these boys is heroism beyond measure. That the world has come together to save these boys is commendable, all humanity is not yet lost. That the world is watching every step of this rescue with bated breath, is an indication of the fact that we are still as a species invested in our children, in the hope they bear by their existence, no matter that we’re swiftly ruining the world we’re leaving behind for them.
That the world is watching every step of this rescue with bated breath, is an indication of the fact that we are still as a species invested in our children, in the hope they bear by their existence, no matter that we’re swiftly ruining the world we’re leaving behind for them.
The offspring will come home anytime now, the rains which had been pelting down since the morning have tapered off to a gentle drizzle. The sky is no longer a dead ringer for apocalypse now. The roads are showing some of their asphalt again, never mind how peppered they are with potholes. As I wait, I pray a little prayer for the boys stuck there on that ledge in that dark, remote cave, waiting to go home.
Kiran Manral is Ideas Editor at SheThePeople.TV
Feature Image Credit: Sky News