When I boarded a flight from Delhi to Raipur after the mid-point training, I was super excited to reach Sukma and begin with the second half of my India Fellow journey. I took a bus from Raipur for Sukma late at night, and was accompanied by a colleague. We woke up around 6am to check where we have reached, and found out that we were just 18km away from our destination. I took my luggage and sat on the front seat, so that we don’t miss our stop.
About 12 km away, there was a huge traffic. The bus stopped. At first instance, we thought it is a naxal movement. However, we saw some people roaming around which indicated that it wasn’t the case. On getting down and walking ahead, what we saw was unbelievable. The Gidam Naala was flooding which brought the entire bridge under water. There was no other way to reach Sukma. We stood there staring at the bridge and the water flowing above it.
After a while, we were told that water logging has started on the route we came from and the vehicles will have to return. Our bus driver took us to the nearest village Pakela. In this situation, it was safer than the other areas. We had no option but to wait for the roads to clear. As we walked through the village in hope of freshening ourselves up, we saw a couple of ladies washing their clothes at a hand-pump. This was the opportunity to get refreshed and have tea with mouth-watering Pakoras at a tiny stall nearby. By now, we were enjoying rather than worrying about the situation.
I interacted with a few young people in the village who said that they haven’t seen such a flood before. One of the elder people said that this had also happened 12 years ago. We moved forward and saw a few boys fishing bravely in the flooded canal. It was joyful to see them. The catch wasn’t big, not even a handful, but they did not stop throwing the net over and over again. It was more like a holiday for the locals rather than a calamity.
A few kids were returning from their schools as they were now closed due to floods. We talked to them and asked what they are going to do now, as the schools have shut. They responded hesitatingly, saying that they will play and enjoy the vacation.
With that, we were on our way to cross the floods. As the boat sailed, it tilted on the either side and each time, my heart skipped a beat. There was a moment when I thought we are going to drown and since, I don’t know swimming, I’ll die.
But soon, we got down from the boat, looked at each other and said, “We did it!”. We expressed heartfelt thanks to both the boatmen, took a deep breath and started walking ahead. This wasn’t the end. Not yet! We had to pass through remaining two patches of 2-3 feet of water logging before finally reaching our destination. It is rightly said that “Sometimes it’s not about the destination, but the journey itself”.