Bergen Catholic Talisman

on-line edition of our literary magazine

Disaster Journal by Hongjun Kim


Journal of the Flood

            It was 8 in the morning when I saw the water being poured from the sky. Although I was informed of 8 inches of heavy rain by NBC News yesterday, I had never experienced that kind of heavy rain and thus was surprised to hear the window being struck by drumming of the rain. However, still underestimating the power of pouring rain, I ignored increasingly uproarious sound of it and went back to bed in order to enjoy a sweet Saturday morning.

It was approximately 11 when I heard my parents and siblings moving hastily. When I asked them what the problem was, the only reply I got was “Help your Dad with digging the drain!” At this moment, I started to realize that this was a problem I had to take seriously. It was dark outside although it was 11 in the morning, electronic devices in my home did not seem to work, and my neighbors, fighting against the pouring rain, were enthusiastically digging the drains on their front yards. Wearing raincoat in order to go outside and help digging the waterway, I became overwhelmed by and afraid of the possibility that the house, or the village, or the whole city, might be flooded with the water. These imaginary tragic scenes rising in my head encouraged and stimulated me to take the shovel and run outside manfully as if I were a soldier running into the battleground to save Private Ryan.

As expected, shoveling under the pouring rain was an arduous task. Although the channel dug by my father was more than 40 inches in depth and 10 inches in width and seemed big enough to save our house from being flooded, the increasing amount of water being poured from the sky required us to dig more deeply. Also, the watery earth that kept falling into the channel irritatingly hindered us from making an actual progress. After about a half hour of shoveling, I heard my stomach growling. Since we were fatigued both physically and mentally, we withdrew from intense shoveling and went inside. Because neither a microwave nor gas stove worked properly, I could not expect more than a plate of cold canned corn, a loaf of stale bread, and a glass of lukewarm water. Literally chewing and swallowing these comestibles and blankly staring at the window, all kinds of miscellaneous thoughts began to mingle in my head. ‘Is this a warning or punishment from God?’ ‘Did people somewhere do something wrong?’ ‘Did I do something bad?’ ‘No, but why should I experience this?!’ The feelings of anger, anguish, lethargy, and grief got intermingled within my heart and it was desperate shouts from outside that kept me from falling asleep in the damp, freezing house.

“NO! No Rex, no!” cried an old, bald man. I immediately recognized that it was my well-acquainted neighbor, a 72-year-old man who had a black schnauzer with whom he lived for 15 years. This dog, named Rex, seemed to be trapped by the iron fence that was being carried away by the flood and, although he was swimming desperately, most of his small, helpless body was already sunk. When Rex was vanished from my sight, I could see the old man lamenting over the dear companion of his. I could not believe that I just observed this tragic scene and my mixed feeling of anger and sorrow was uncontrollably growing larger.

The rain was pouring more than it was in 8 in the morning. All the drains that were ardently built by people were already submerged and it was 5 in the afternoon when the whole village seemed to be flooded. By that time, I could see variety of things flowing along the water. From pieces of cloth, helmets, basketballs, and twigs to fences, tires, bikes, and even doors, numerous things regardless of their size, shape, and price were carried away by water. This was unutterably terrible scene. The only thing people could do was staring at the window and sighing as though the world ended. I felt very helpless when the vehement gale and arrow-like raindrops were striking my house. Although it was time to have dinner, I, as well as my parents and siblings, was not able to eat with the water slowly permeating into the house through the front door. We used all our clothes to block the water from entering our house and I went up to my bedroom in order to avoid any possible danger. Weakly lying on the bed, I began to think about the invincible power of nature. Although I had recognized human beings as the most dominant thing in the earth, they were just several grains of sand when compared to the mountain-like nature. Then, feeling impotent and hoping for a sunny, rainless day, I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

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