Moratuwa is a largely Catholic, iconic suburb of Colombo. Boxing Day 2004 would have dawned in the aftermath of Christmas merrymaking by Moratuwa’s residents who are almost exclusively fisherfolk and carpenters. Both professions close to the heart of the man whose birthday they just celebrated.

The fishing community lives, illegally, on the seaside of the coastal railway track. The carpenters live on the land side of Galle Road, the main trunk road along the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, which runs parallel to the railway track. The sea, however, does not discriminate. And on December 26, 2004, the tsunami laid waste to the fishing huts, the railway track, the Galle Road and the inland carpenters’ houses, in that order. The devastation was swift, unannounced and uncompromising and the frugal dwellings provided little resistance.

Over the last decade, the mud huts and wood planked houses flanking Galle Road have reappeared. Galle Road itself has been overshadowed by the new expressway that connects Colombo to the island’s deep south. But back then this was the road travelers used on their way to more exotic destinations, picking up speed on this particular stretch through Moratuwa, the fastest section of the 100 km journey to the city of Galle.

Three days after the Boxing Day tsunami that struck Sri Lanka in 2004, a boy finds his lost puppy. This is in Moratuwa, a suburb South of Colombo.
Three days after the Boxing Day tsunami that struck Sri Lanka in 2004, a boy finds his lost puppy. This is in Moratuwa, a suburb South of Colombo. Photograph: Dominic Sansoni/ThreeBlindMen

How many speeding cars would this young boy have waved at? Did he wave habitually, that morning, at the train? The one that rattled the boards of his house and met the wave at Peraliya, further south, killing everyone on board. We don’t know what he, and thousands of others went through, that morning, or in the days weeks and months after.

But even in the darkest times, through the rubble life sometimes leaves, we find something which puts a smile on our face. Through the midst of wars, tsunamis, droughts and floods, Sri Lanka carries on with this smile.

 

Photograph by Dominic Sansoni/ThreeBlindMen:

What Dominic likes doing best is travelling with no agenda. His pictures may be seen on www.threeblindmen.com. Dominic lives in Colombo.