It is two forty-five on the seventh of January 2005.
You will have noticed by now that a Day here is not necessarily a day in real time.
Maybe I am trying to cheat fate, by pretending that these are real days, thus expanding my allotted time on this planet proportionally.
I started writing this on the twenty-second of December, which is sixteen days ago now. It has taken sixteen days to write eight of these Days, which means that one Day here is actually two days in real time.
Somehow I suspect that fate will see through my little tricks.
Actually, the reason I have not been writing this is that the real world has intruded into my plans somewhat.
I'm talking about the Asian Tsunami.
I intended this to be a free-standing rap-meditation on time and measure.
Now we have some real numbers to consider.
I first heard about the disaster on Boxing Day morning at about six am. I told you I often listen to the World Service at night. I woke very early to hear the first reports coming through. The first figure they gave was that ten thousand people had been killed. By eight o'clock the figure had risen to sixteen thousand. By lunchtime the figure was forty-five thousand. We now know, of course, that it has already exceeded one hundred and fifty thousand, and is likely to rise even further as disease and starvation take their toll.
So here are some more numbers.
Indonesia: eighty thousand, two hundred and forty six dead as of Monday the fourth of January. More than one hundred thousand living in temporary shelters. Malaysia: seventy two dead, two hundred and eighteen missing. Thailand: four thousand, nine hundred and ninety-three dead, three thousand, eight hundred and ten missing. Maldives: eighty dead. Somalia: two hundred dead. Sri Lanka: twenty nine thousand, seven hundred and forty-four dead, five thousand five hundred and forty missing. India: forteen thousand four hundred and eighty eight dead. Burma: ninety dead.
These figures are well known, of course, though they hide another, greater truth.
Some things are beyond measure.
How do you measure despair, for instance? How do you measure loss?
The Earthquake that caused the Tsunami was measured as nine on the Richter Scale. That's the largest Earthquake in over forty years.
What is the Richter Scale for human tragedy?