"We are so used to seeing fishermen return from the sea with boats full of fish. But in Poonthura, I saw boats that carried dead men back home."
These are the words of a 21-year-old woman from Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram district, which describe a sight she witnessed at Poonthura a few days ago, a place where the fishermen community continues to face the brunt of cyclone Ockhi.
A student of journalism at the University of Hyderabad (UoH), Sindhu Maria Nepolean is the daughter of a fisherman. She decided to take to Facebook to describe what the disaster did to the families of the fishermen.
Saying that she had visited Poonthura recently, Sindhu said that she met people who had lost everything, including their peace.
"As I proceeded to the beach, I saw numerous houses that had benches covered in white cloth lined up in the front, with framed photographs mounted on them. In some places, there were no photographs, there were only lit candles. I saw a pall of gloom there," Sindhu wrote.
In her post written in Malayalam, Sindhu described how fishermen who had joined the search for missing persons and rescue operations, were returning home one by one in their boats. But instead of the usual sight of fishermen returning with a good catch, she saw boats that carried dead bodies back from the sea, some bodies which were indistinguishable.
"Can you imagine this? A boat is returning to the shore...people run towards it and help pull the boat to the shore. And then from the boat, they take out a decayed body and rush it to the ambulance," Sindhu wrote.
When Ockhi hit the Kerala coast on November 30, the fishermen from the state had already ventured out to the sea, since no prior cyclone warning was issued.
Speaking about the lack of warning that pushed the fisherfolk to their death, Sindhu wrote:
"If it had been an unavoidable short circuit or a flash flood that claimed so many lives, we could have understood it. But this is not so. It is the irresponsibility shown by certain people right from the start, that has caused so many people to lose their lives. I am not able to fully express my anger towards the weather department that was incapable of predicting this huge disaster and warning the fisherfolk. And the coast guard team has people who have no idea about the sea. I am not discounting the rescue operations they did, but if they had included the fisherfolk right from the beginning, the rescue operations could have been more effective. When bodies of people who died an hour or two ago are brought back to the shore, do you realise the importance of time...the importance of a minute?"
She shared the story of her father, who chose to return home on Wednesday night (Ockhi hit Kerala coast of Thursday), since the lamp in his boat was running out of battery.
"What if he had decided to stay in the sea, hoping for the wind to subside?" she asked, saying that her hands were trembling as she wrote those lines.
In her post, Sindhu said that the cyclone had largely affected only the fishermen community and nobody outside the place.
"A friend told me yesterday, that if a tragedy like this had happened in Sabarimala, our central and state governments would have sprung into action! For you, the news was how Kadakampally boarded a helicopter, or how Pinarayi's car was blocked or how Nirmala Sitharaman went to Kanyakumari. Now I understand why people said someone from our community itself should be there to present what is news to us," Sindhu wrote.
Sindhu's post published on December 4 has found resonance with thousands of Facebook users.
Read her full post in Malayalam here: