One of the recurring weather conditions Mauritius (and all the surrounding islands) are always on the alert for in the summer, is cyclones. There have been savage ones in the past, whose names still retain their notoriety. When I was growing up there in the early 1980s, I was lucky to not experience a really bad one. Back then, "Cyclone Carol" from the 1970s was our byword and benchmark for fury and ferocious destruction. All us kids knew the name, and with every cyclone which formed throughout the summers, we would ask the grown-ups if this was the one that would be as bad as Cyclone Carol. It was the one which loomed long and scary and dark in the island's collective memory.
Much like the destructive shadows of Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey now hang heavy over the Caribbean islands and the US.
We live in an era of interconnected communications and collapsed timezones. We have (some) knowledge of what has happened during these recent catastrophic hurricanes. Many of us haven't had to live through them. But we can imagine the tight wordless fears of not surviving, sitting alongside the silent bravery and determination to survive. We can imagine the heartbreak and pain and drudgery and frustration of surviving. Of needing to make do. Of knowing everything must be built back up. Of needing to find the strength - every single day - to make it happen. After the short-spanned media spotlight has dissipated.
I imagine the destruction as three Cyclone Carols, two of which have covered the same trajectory, back-to-back. Not on my island, or those near mine, but on other islands - other dots - in another ocean.
We can't do anything much directly. Or, at least, it feels as if we can't.
The always-inspiring Sarah Brentyn, writer and blogger and twitter micro-fiction genius, has given us - the twitter micro-fiction and blogging communities - a way to help: a flash fiction challenge for hurricane relief (full details in the link).
In brief, we write a piece of flash fiction (no more than 50 words) on the theme of 'help', post it on our blogs, let her know, and she donates $1 per flash fic to hurricane relief.
Consider it done, Sarah. Thank you for this clever, productive way of letting us help with our words, and here's my flash fic:
Long before she left home, I helped her make her white handkerchief and showed her many ways to use it. As wings over valleys; sails to skim seas; parachutes to return to earth; bandages, towels, warmth. Not just for herself, but for all those she wanted to share it with.