The grimmest of anniversaries

Anniversary stories are common in journalism. A year ago in Haiti, an earthquake devastated the country…

Anniversaries a great peg to revisit stories.

Number 10 is a big one and I am sure journalists around the country are gearing up to tell all sorts of stories as we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Hard to believe sometimes that it has been that long.

I have been thinking of my own 10th anniversaries this year — of a massive earthquake struck I covered in western India when I suddenly found myself in the midst of intense human misery.

Today is the 10th anniversary of my father’s death. Alzheimer’s turned his brain to mush and rendered his body weak and feeble. In the end, he had massive bed sores eating away the outer layers of flesh.

I knew he was very ill and was rushing to get home to Kolkata. In Amsterdam, during a six-hour layover, I found out he had died.

I sat at an airport bar, drinking glasses of cabernet and wiping away unstoppable tears.

I tried to calm myself with the thought of my father’s pain finally ending; that he had found relief.

I landed in Kolkata and tended right away to his cremation,

Today, I went to work with thoughts of my father’s death. It was one anniversary that went without notice in the CNN newsroom.

What have they done?

I wandered through the Port-au-Prince cemetery today with a Haitian colleague looking for his family crypt. His heart was full of trepidation. What would he find?

Had someone tossed his ancestor’s bodies and stuffed fresh ones in there instead. That’s what has happened to so many crypts.

We stepped over bones and skulls spread through the maze of crypts. Flies swarmed. The stench of rotting human flesh.

And the souls of the dead. Restless. Disturbed. “Why can’t you let us rest in peace?” they seemed to say.

What else were people to do? Where to dispose of those freshly departed? After the earthquake, there were bodies everywhere. And nowhere to bury them properly.

I don’t know where to begin this story for CNN.

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