KLANG, Malaysia (AP) – Lying prone on the bobbing wooden plank, Ari Afrizal
looked left and saw the fiery red sun dipping into the watery horizon.
Weakly, he turned his face the other way and saw a pearly white full moon
rising in the east.
All around him, the sea looked like it was sprinkled with chopped leaves of
gold, shimmering in the sun’s glow. Ari had never seen a more wondrous
sight. ”It was beautiful, but it was sad,” he said.
It was dusk on Dec. 26, and Ari had been adrift in the Indian Ocean for
about eight hours, plucked from a beach side construction site in the
Indonesian province of Aceh by the waves of a demonic tsunami and hurled
into the unforgiving sea.
Ari survived that night. And for the next 14 days, the devout Muslim lived
on coconuts and prayers until he was rescued Sunday by a container ship
heading from Oman to Malaysia. His ordeal, recounted in an exclusive
interview with The Associated Press, is the longest known of any tsunami
survivor at sea”¦
Ari calls his survival a gift from Allah, the fruit of his devotion.
With very little to do for 15 days except to think about his family and
girlfriend Ayi Melia, Ari said he prayed.
“Allah I seek your forgiveness and I seek your help for myself and my
parents and Ayi,” he would recite again and again in the Malay language,
spoken in Malaysia and Indonesia. “Please give me life. Please give me life”¦