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That fateful night

Luke Nacei
Friday, February 23, 2018

IT was around 7pm on February 20, 2016, and Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston had just started picking up strength in Drasa, Lautoka where we lived.

My three siblings, my mother and I were huddled together in one corner of our two-bedroom wooden house while my father was still braving the rain and wind outside trying to ensure that our house was properly secured for the monster cyclone.

We were accompanied by another family of six who came to seek shelter at our house.

Everyone was quiet inside the house as the sound of the strong wind was louder than our voices.

Around 7.30pm, my mother went to the window to call my father to come and have dinner and rest as the wind was quickly picking up strength.

Little did my mother know that my father was going to almost every house in our settlement trying to ensure they were all secured.

It was now after 9pm and my father was finally home, drenched from the rain.

We were still gathered at the top right corner of our house with my mother as we felt the house shaking as a result of the strong winds.

By now, we were still huddled together in the dark, with only the sound of the roaring wind and rain echoing throughout our dark sitting room.

At this time, my father was still telling my mother that he would have his dinner straight after he changed.

In a span of five seconds, we heard a loud bang on our front door and with the flash from the lightning; we could see my father flew across the house.

All were still quiet and just as we felt my father fell down in front of us, my sister's wailing echoed throughout the house.

Now, I suspected something was wrong.

My mother quickly rushed towards my father to help him, but all proved futile.

I joined my mother and tried to help my father with all our might, but all he could say to my mother was, "Nanumi ratou na gone." (Remember our children.)

That was it.

Still reeling from the shock of what transpired, my mother held on to my father in a bid to resuscitate him.

But all was too late, I knew death was before me.

By now, the door to our house had been blown away and we were exposed to the strong winds and heavy rain.

All I can remember was my mother asking me and crying at the same time, to take my siblings to another house.

To lose a loved and very dear one at such a time, I did not want to go elsewhere and wanted to brave the monster cyclone that night just to be with my parents.

But the lives of my siblings were at risk at this time, so we took refuge at my neighbouring grandparents' house.

Just as we entered my grandparents' house, the roof flew off and I just couldn't handle the thought of losing anybody else that night.

It was now 12 midnight.

I held my siblings together and we sought refuge at another nearby house where we stayed until the winds died down.

No one slept.

At daybreak, I brought my siblings together and we went home.

There, my mother was still holding on tightly to my father.

All were shocked and lost. We couldn't do anything else but cried at the sight of my parents.

Although it has been more than two years now, I still remember my father as a very jovial person who was always there for us in times of need.

I may have thought life was unfair but I have always been assured by the Bible verse, Job 1: 21, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."

Hundreds of people have a story to tell about this tragic experience.

Mine was such and can be a testament to what many other families went through on that fateful night when the Category 5 cyclone ravaged through the country claiming 44 lives, one of who was my father, Taniela Voreqe.

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