The Floods of Kerala: Saving Photos and Memories

K. R. Sharada. Photo: P. Sainath.

K. R. Sharada’s home sits on an elevated area overlooking the paddy and tapioca fields, and the patches of banana cultivation in Ranni Angadi village of Pattanamthitta district. All fields that are being worked on by Kudumbashree sangha krishis (group or collective farms). Not only did the August 2018 floods in Kerala drown those fields, they rose high enough to enter her home on the ridge above them – and submerged the entire ground floor. “I had to leave home for 11 days,” says Sharada, who spent those days in a relief camp on higher ground. She herself is not a farmer but a homemaker.

Many days after her return, she’s still drying out her belongings on the porch and steps of her house. The most precious of those to her seem to be some lovely family photos. Luckily, many of them are of the washable or water-resistant, laminated kind. She had them drying on some steps at the side, including a few of her son, K.R. Rajesh, who is in the military and away on duty. Sharada doesn’t know his precise location but believes he is in “some place” in the north.

P Sainath is the founder and editor of the People’s Archive of Rural India. He has been a rural reporter for decades and is the author of ‘Everybody Loves a Good Drought.’ You can contact the author here: @PSainath_org