The Great Wave
My name is Juti and I’m 10 years old. I lived in Banda Aceh in Northern Sumatra Island, one of many islands that make up Indonesia. I am a tsunami survivor. It seems only like yesterday, even though it was a couple of years ago, when my island was hit by a huge tsunami wave.
It all started one sunny day when me and my sister went to play by the beach. Many tourists came to our island for a vacation and stayed at the Silver Moon hotel, which was owned by my best friend’s father.
We were making sand castles together when the tide mysteriously pulled back. All the boats that were once many feet in the water were now docked on sand in only a few minutes! My younger sister Atika was delighted with all the wet sand to make more sand castles with, and she ran with her buckets collecting more and more sand. I, unlike my sister, gave a second thought as to why the tide acted that way. It didn’t seem normal for the tide to empty out like that so quickly. Then I remembered something my uncle had told me. The tide doesn’t act that way.... unless there is a big wave coming!
I grabbed Atika’s hand and urged her to run. “Why?” she asked, reluctantly dropping her bucket of sand. There was no time for questions, I could already see the wave coming closer and closer. It seemed small at first, but when the wave covered a huge ship out in the deep water and made it disappear, I knew that it was anything but small.
The tourists were all standing around and exclaiming at the wave, but had no idea of the danger we were all in. “Run, tsunami!” I tried to warn them, but they couldn’t understand my language and stared at me blankly. Someone who knew a little bit of my language caught the ‘tsunami’ part and took up the call in English and started running as well.
“What is a tsunami?” asked Atika. “You’ll find out very soon,” I answered, still running and clenching her hand tightly.
All too soon the waves were crashing around me, and the freezing water stung my face. We didn’t reach the hotel in time, although I later learned that even the hotel had washed away, along with nearly every other building on the shore. I tried desperately to keep my head over the wild water of the sea, but the storm was too strong. “Atika! Atika, where are you?!” I screamed. Somehow, we got separated. I don’t remember letting go of her hand and her slipping away from me. “Help!” I cried, trying to yell over the roar of the waves, “help!” The last bits of my energy drained away as the ocean tumbled me around like a lifeless log. There seemed to be no hope that I would survive.
I saw a blurry outline of the island a couple of miles away, and it seemed like I was perhaps getting closer! My hope was rising again. I might make it! But, just as I thought that I had a chance to survive, another huge wave crashed over me and plunged me deep into the water. After that, I couldn’t remember anymore.
I woke up to find myself in a bed and I could feel something warm flowing from my arm. It was blood. Someone quickly came and wrapped my arm in a bandage. I weakly grabbed her arm and asked, “Where’s Atika?” “Don’t worry,” she said, “you’ll have time to look for your family later. It’s a miracle that you survived!”
After a few days, I found out I was in another nearby city. Relief workers helped me to find my family back in Banda Aceh. My family was safe but Atika was missing. My family spent weeks going from hospital to hospital, talking to many relief volunteers in hope of finding her. After a month of searching and searching with no success, we had to accept the fact that Atika was gone.
It is now many years since the tsunami hit the island, and I am 17years old. I am a doctor-in-training in Banda Aceh. I couldn’t help my sister when she was lost to the tsunami, so I will at least try to help other people who are hurt. Even though Atika is gone, the memory and good times I had with my sweet, dear younger sister will never leave me.