As we alighted the flight at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, I was flooded with strong emotions in anticipation of the excitement awaiting me at the World Congress of Poets, to which I had been invited as a poet delegate.
There were two young Thai men holding a placard with my name to receive me and my husband. Seeing their smiling young faces (they are students of Silpakorn National University, I gathered later), I felt a surge of joy and immediately felt quite at home. They told us that it would take a good two hours to reach our destination — the venue of the Congress.
As I settled down in the car, my mind raced back to reminisce the phenomenal rescue operations that had saved the lives of members of a junior football team comprising 12 young boys and their 25-year-old coach trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave.
When the team went missing, efforts to locate it turned into an massive and intense operation. British divers going through narrow passages and murky waters found the group alive on an elevated rock about 4 km from the mouth of the cave. The news had the whole world sending prayers and blessings for their successful rescue.
Along with the unified endeavour, grit, determination and extreme skills of the rescue team, the whole effort involved more than 10,000 people including 100 divers, hundreds of rescue workers from 100 governmental agencies, 900 police officers, 200 soldiers and 10 police helicopters, police ambulances and more than 700 diving cylinders. The amount of water pumped out of the cave was more than a billion litres.
For the trapped boys, their coach proved to be a god-sent angel with motivation and resilience embedded in all his being. He took care of his students, strengthening their resolve mentally and emotionally in the most trying of trials. He taught them the power of mind over matter, and showed them how to attain “peace amid storm”. It is by the presence of mind in extreme emergencies that the native mettle of a man is tested. Kudos to the coach! After coming out of the cave, the young boys must have understood the special privilege of being alive, to breathe normally, to enjoy and live life fully. Ah, the age of miracles is forever here; we only need angels who work in the garb of men to make us realise that.
With moist eyes I came out of my reverie, but my heart continued to hold that sense of inexplicable joy and gratitude till much after. I again swelled with pride and honour when I saw our tricolour being put up on the podium while I presented my poems and paper to the Congress where poets from various countries had congregated. The feelings behind the Sanskrit phrase soared high: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The world is one family).