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Creative Nonfiction East Asian Indigenous

Dear diary,


Tauktae. Tau’Te.


Weird name, right?


Well, it may sound absurd, maybe funny even, but it did quite a lot of damage to us. You see, (well, you read) I live on this little island in the Lakshadweep group of islands. I am the daughter of the tribal chief of our island where we've been living for over a century now, which, thanks to the Government of India, acts as a safe haven for us. No one can come here to preserve our culture and our heritage.. Whenever I go to Kavaratti {the capital of Lakshadweep Islands}, I hear India is developing and all, but I feel we have still not received the recognition we deserve.


Now, the day I am writing about was a few days ago, after which, I was pondering and thought to write a diary. After all, this might be an once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.


The day started like any other. Get up, get dressed, and roam on the island and so on. It was almost lunchtime when I saw the sea, for the first time that day. I didn't know why, but I was feeling a tingling sensation in my body. As if something was about to happen. Something scary.


As on cue, the sea started rising. In the distance, I could see the waves crashing against each other. I would be delighted by it, on a normal day. But there was something to it. I just couldn't infer what it was.


Then it came. The Gecko.


Slowly at first, and then gradually increasing its speed, winds blew from the sea and into my face. I realized soon enough that it was a cyclone. I rushed into the village, to inform my father. He was sitting in utmost silence, listening to the two farmers who were arguing about some petty issue. I told him what I saw, "Father, there is a storm in the sea, a cyclone. I saw it with my own eyes. The winds are getting stronger and stronger by the second."


"Go," he said, "Go home and gather the emergency supplies. Get ready to evacuate. Use that weird black thingie to tell the government. We need help, fast."


I ran into our small cottage, and hastened to explain my mother the whole situation. She was right there, sitting near the stove as always during lunch, preparing chapattis. She got up hurriedly and started packing lunchboxes.


"Mother, you know that it is an emergency. We have to contact the government and ensure that all the villagers are transported to Kerala {a South Indian state} safe and sound. There is no time to pack lunch. Come on. Go. Get the emergency survival kit. I am going to find that sate...phony...thing under my bed."


"Fine."


As I made my way to my bedroom, I was trying to remember what that kind lady told when she had handed me the satellite...phony. I felt my brain heating up. It was so difficult to put up with the technology these days, especially because we don't have the exposure, or maybe, we've ourselves restricted that exposure.


Nonetheless, I realized that I had to press that red button with some weird snake-like figure, a circle and another snake-like figure on it. I pressed it.


I went outside to my neighbour's homes, to help them evacuate safely. They had heard about the cyclone and were doing the same thing that my mother was doing. Packing. We had done it a lot many times, sometimes twice or thrice a year, to escape from the cyclones and the storms in the sea.


A lady's voice rang in my ear. I remembered the phony and talked to her, giving her all the details and asking for help. At first, I believe she didn't understand me, seeing that I was speaking in my mother tongue. I quickly shifted to the tit-bits of English I knew.


"Help. Cyclone. Danger. Help."


That was all I could recall and that was all that the lady needed to know to understand the situation here. I knew that the government was going to help us. They had sent us flying things that looked like a giant ball, with a very long stick attached to it. We had then gone off to some place in Kerala where we stayed safely until the storm came to a halt. Then, we were transported back to our island by modern boats.


Boats. Realization struck. Boats! Our fishermen were out there, in the sea! All alone, facing the storm. I had to do something. I had to save them. We couldn't lose more men, especially after the last cyclone.


The whole island was in panic mode. That was enough to make me forget about the fishermen for a while. People were rushing here and there, trying to find their loved ones and looking for resources. I heard someone saying, "The Water God is angry. We're all going to die. We'll die."


I shout out loud enough for everyone to hear, "No one will die. I have contacted the government. They are sending us help. We just need to be patient."


With that, I see that the people of the island have now gathered outside their homes. Generally, it is my father's job and girls aren't even allowed to do this, it is the responsibility of our future chief, my infant brother. Since this was an emergency, I thought that I would be excused and led the people through the jungle and towards the peak of the mountain.


It was the highest and the safest point for us to be at that moment. The storm came in closer to the island. We could feel the strong winds blowing even on the top. There, we saw our homes being destroyed by the strong winds, our harbours being hit by the splashing waves and the trees being broken into pieces as if they were twigs. Our island was being destroyed, in front of our own eyes, and we could do nothing about it. Then, I heard a cheer.


Soon, everyone started cheering. They had sent it. They had helped us again. The government had sent us their flying object to transport us. I was overjoyed.


Speaking to the villagers, I said, "Please let the elderly, the children and the women go in first." Everyone agreed and made way for the flyers to land. Gradually, most of the population of the island was in the flyers, flying overhead and heading towards the mainland.


My father and I were the last two people to board the flyers. It was the last one. No one was there except us. As we started to fly east, my father told me, "Dear, I never thought about it earlier, but now you are big enough to make your own decisions and lead our tribe. I saw the shimmer in your eyes when you were looking at the people while they were cheering on the boats of the skies. You have started to take your own decisions, and if I may add myself, they are very wise. You are the future of our tribe."


I couldn't believe it. My father was saying these lines. He continued, "You will be the next leader of our tribe. And I know that you will be even better than me, or any other leader before me."


As he was saying this, I felt proud. I thought, 'I can't believe that I saved everyone on our island!'


A thought crossed my mind. 'Not everyone' my inner voice said, 'You forgot the fishermen. They will not be able to survive the storm.'


"STOP!" I shouted. The pilot started hovering the flyer. I said, looking at my father, "There are still some people who need my help. Father, please, listen to me. You've just now said that I am capable of taking my own decisions, please listen to me. Take the other flyer. I need to go to the north side of the island. There are still two fishermen who are in the ocean. I will go with the pilot and bring them to Kerala, safe."


"But dear..."


"No father. You are going to do as I say. Go, our people need you."


With this, I instructed the pilot to hover closer to another flyer so that my father could change vehicles. Thank God he knew my language!


We then headed towards the north of our island. Surely, there in the sea, I saw two of our most skilled fishermen. I nodded to the pilot and he released a rope ladder. The fishermen safely boarded the flyer.


After some time, I could see the mainland. We landed and were given some water, warm clothes and a towel. As I came out of the washroom, I saw my family, sitting on the benches, waiting for me.


I was hugged, kissed and scolded by my parents to have tried to do such a dangerous and a heroic act. Then, my father announced, addressing the villagers, "My daughter is the reason we all are safe and sound here. It was her decision to inform me about the storm as soon as she saw it approaching, it was her decision to call the government, even if they failed to understand her the first time, it was her decision to go up on the mountain; and it was her decision to go back for the fishermen. I hereby declare her the heir to the legacy of my family. She will become the next leader of this tribe." The whole crowd started cheering and whooping.


"And a fine one too." My father said to me, in a proud tone.


So, for me, The Gecko, or the Tauktae wasn't all bad. It helped me to take my own decisions and take the decisions for our whole community in the future.


May 22, 2021 19:34

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42 comments

Dhwani Jain
14:07 May 23, 2021

Hello! I hope you like this story. I have written it in the best possible way and have tried my best to bring the characters to life. I would appreciate it if you would leave a review comment below and read my blog : www.djdhwanijain.wordpress.com Thank you for reading and enjoying my story!

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Charlie Murphy
17:20 May 31, 2021

Awesome story! It's what a real hero is!

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Dhwani Jain
09:01 Jun 01, 2021

Thank you so much!

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16:47 May 27, 2021

I really like this. You’re writing style is very appealing and different than a lot of other styles I have read (btw- definitely not a bad thing.) I really like how your main character developed throughout the story, which is sometimes hard to do when you only have 3000 words, so amazing job!

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Dhwani Jain
17:07 May 27, 2021

Thanks I know, being unique is not a bad thing....I didn't take it otherwise, don't fret. Yeah...well, I tend to write these stories in approx. 1000-1500 words, but yeah, it can be difficult sometimes.

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Dhwani Jain
13:57 Aug 18, 2021

Bio updated Also, when are you gonna write your part, I have been waiting for too long. 😭🥺

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19:26 Aug 18, 2021

Ah! Shoot! Sorry, with school and all, it completely slipped my mind!! So sorry! 😬 I am going to be really busy for the next few weeks, so if you want to go ahead and finish it, that is fine with me. Again, many sorries!!

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Dhwani Jain
03:45 Aug 19, 2021

Okay. I can complete it then. I'll upload it on my profile and notify you. You can then post it on your too! no problem!!

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Arwen Dove
04:45 May 26, 2021

I love this!

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Dhwani Jain
18:31 May 26, 2021

Thanks Arwen! Where are you from? Please read my other stories...

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Arwen Dove
05:47 May 27, 2021

:) Yup! I'll be sure to read more of your stories! (I'm from New Zealand.)

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Dhwani Jain
07:36 May 27, 2021

Thanks! Great! How's the weather there?

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Dhwani Jain
12:02 May 27, 2021

Hey, Did you get the Critique Circle e-mail this week?

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Arwen Dove
21:06 May 28, 2021

The weather's been really cold and rainy. :( No, I haven't got the critique circles for a few weeks now.

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Dhwani Jain
04:01 May 29, 2021

Oh... The weather here is very boring....just Sun and a lot of Sunshine. Yesterday the temperature was 43deg. C!!!!! Yeah, same here. No critique circle emails since I've joined Reedsy.

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Dhwani Jain
13:56 Aug 18, 2021

Bio updated

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wow, great story! I liked how she persevered and grew in this time of trouble. Just shows how strong you gotta be to be a leader :) I noticed one tiny error tho... "I am going to find that sate...phony...thing under my bed." (I think you mean either state or safe or something along those lines) Great job overall! L.W.

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Dhwani Jain
14:20 May 23, 2021

Thanks for the feedback... No, I actually meant Satellite Phone. She doesn't know English, so, she says it "sate".

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ohhhh okay that makes much more sense :)

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Dhwani Jain
15:34 May 23, 2021

Yeah...hence the 'phony', the 'flyers' {for helicopters} and the 'boats of the skies' {by her father, for helicopters}.

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yeah I got those, just wasn't sure about the sate phone :)

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Dhwani Jain
15:50 May 23, 2021

Okay...

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