The salty air of the seaside


t was a beautiful day at the beach. The sun was shining, the water was warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.


Everything was perfect, until there was a gruesome scream from the water. Then I saw what was happening. People were running towards the higher land, screaming. There was a big wall running towards us一the gentle waves were no longer gentle but a frightful monster.


‘It’s a disastrous tsunami again!’ People were shouting. ‘Run for your lives!’ Some of them screamed. I heard people screaming and children squalling everywhere. Everyone was running for their lives. But the waves were much quicker. ‘Swoosh!’ Everything was then sucked into the sea. Everything, trees, houses, people’s kayaks and sailboats, and … human beings…! Lucky ones might be able to cling on a piece of wood or two in the nick of time to save their lives. I should have enough time to escape but my mind was wandering somewhere else. When the waves came, I was then washed away with the others.


Salty seawater was entering my throat, and also my nostrils. This time, I could not only smell the seawater but actually taste it. I could feel that the seawater was filling my lungs, too. I could not breathe…


Before I lost my consciousness, my memories came back… The tsunami that time was so familiar, so familiar with the one that happened four years ago…


It was a beautiful, starry night. I was walking along the seaside with my dearest parents. We chatted and played. We built a huge sandcastle with the Sageras next door. Although it was nighttime, the soft white sand was still warm and the crashing waves were still cool. I loved the tickly feeling when the water lapped at my toes. The adults suggested we kids got home and got some spades and buckets. They were going to teach us to find some crabs, clams and lobsters between the cracks of rocks. We kids shouted ‘hurray’ and ran off to my house – it was much nearer to the beach compared with the Sageras’ house. I went off with the Sageras’ youngest two children, Andy and Ashley, who were only five and three that year. I was only ten by then. The largest son of the Sageras who was twenty-one stayed with our parents.


Who would have thought that it had saved my life?

When I entered my house with Andy and Ashley, finding my bucket and spade, there was a sudden shake and the whole house started shaking. Ashley went out crying with fear.


‘It’s an EARTHQUAKE!’ I shouted. I hugged them both close to me as I was the oldest and needed to protect them. We hid under my bed. Ten minutes after the house had stopped shaking, and we were about to leave, then there was a loud, thunderous sound. I told Andy and Ashley to stay under my bed and peeped out to see what’s going on. It was a stunning sight. Seawater was pouring into the house. Everything outside was sucked into the stomach of this sea monster. I immediately realized that it’s a tsunami attacking our village. I quickly got hold of both Andy and Ashley’s hands and ran off to higher land. But we failed to do so. The seawater was too strong and in one second, my home collapsed. Seawater poured in and all three of us were washed away. Luckily, I got hold of a chair and held it tight with Andy and Ashley, we had hope against hope to survive and be saved.


After three days and nights, finally we were saved. I was yet informed that my mother and Andy and Ashley’s parents had died during the tsunami. My father and the kids’ elder brother were reported missing. I couldn’t believe that in 72 hours the kids had lost their parents and I had lost my beloved mother. However, I knew that I had to face the music and act strong because the kids needed me. Crying over spilt milk was useless.


‘Where’re mommy and daddy?’ Ashley asked me one day after the quake. Her big, round, watery eyes were full of fear.


I still couldn’t forget those eyes full of tears. She looked so miserable…  I didn’t want to know how many cases of death there would be this time and a strong smell of salty air came to me…, so familiar.


Cindy Chong Mei Sze   2C 2014-15