Six months ago, cheering and laughing filled our beautiful town. Happiness was spread everywhere with the sounds of church bells to children playing in the school grounds. Even the busy markets that made the most mouth-watering delights were always bursting with festive music and joy. There was no better place on Earth … until the deadly storm arrived.

It started with howling wind in the middle of the night which made it impossible to sleep. Soon we were deafened by roaring thunder and jagged strikes of lightning only to feel like we were trapped in a war zone as we tried to hide from the enemy. Buried deep under my bed sheets, I cried in fear and could hear people screaming in panic. My parents called my name as they desperately tried to secure the house. The storm grew more violent by the second. At that point, trees in the garden started falling to the ground and buildings collapsed like a trail of dominoes. It seemed like only a matter of time that our house would fall. Suddenly, the roof of our house crumbled on top of us as my parents were shouting and trying to shelter me. This was the last thing I could remember.

I found myself confused wondering where I was whilst I questioned the whereabouts of my family. I realised that I lay weak on a hospital bed. My body battered and bruised with a cast on my leg. Unexpectedly, Aunt Edith walked in the room with a melancholic look on her face. She had let out a long sigh as she grabbed my hands sympathetically. Tears started to roll down her cheeks as she sniffled into her wrinkled and damp handkerchief. Words started to tumble out of her mouth. “I’m so very sorry darling, but mum and dad … they did not survive Cyclone Yasmin. However, you must always know that they loved you very much and will always be watching over you.” Aunt Edith sniffled into her handkerchief again whilst I sat there, frozen and in disbelief. I started to sob which continued over the next few months.

When I had fully recovered, Aunt Edith drove me to the only place I knew as home. The town was silent and derelict, completely unrecognisable. There was a sinister feeling in the air.  A few houses remained, barely standing whilst the power lines had been repaired, but it felt empty. Everything had disappeared, including all the warmth, joy and love. I felt so heartbroken.  As I explored the area where my house once stood strong, I spotted my old bike next to a fallen tree. I grabbed the bike and rode away from the town into the distance, leaving my past behind. I did not look back.