Tidal Wave


I sometimes wonder why I choose some of the most depressing memoirs to read. If you’ve seen my blog before, you also might be confused as to why I’d immerse myself in stories of dying infants, traumatic childhoods, and unfathomable grief.

For me, these stories help me understand how someone else has gotten through such hardship. And if that person was able to survive, was able to return to a desk and start writing, how can I complain about the things I’ve been through.

Granted, it doesn’t bode well to compare grief, so let’s move on to the writing.

When reaching for Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, I noticed that it’s a rather small book. Nonetheless, I was immersed in the catastrophic moments before Deraniyagala lost her husband, two sons, and her parents. It’s the tsunami of 2004 in Sri Lanka. One wave comes in and takes away everyone dear to her.

Saying it’s intense is an understatement. What is interesting to me is the distanced feeling I got from the narrator in the days after the wave. She was almost too cold, too logical to actually have just lost her family. And in that way, I believe that she did relay the story from what she actually did.

The timeline jumps back and forth and across different parts of the globe. Deraniyagala slowly revisits her home, seeing her children’s things untouched. Her reflections on little moments help to explain the bigger picture of getting through horrific grief.

While it isn’t an easy read, there are lovely moments where Deraniyagala portrays her family, keeping the memories close.