The cyclone shelter symbolizes what Nirmal may have been able to accomplish had he been more willing to compromise on his belief in the importance of pure, unadulterated communist theory. Nilima explains that the Babadon Trust never would've built the cyclone shelter in the hospital had Nirmal not insisted they do so. Notably, Nirmal only insisted because he was so interested in the science and the theory behind cyclones and other storms. Thus, the cyclone shelter becomes both the most lasting thing that Nirmal leaves behind and a reminder of all that he was unable to leave behind.
Cyclone Shelter Quotes in The Hungry Tide
"Nirmal, you have no idea of what it takes to do anything practical," she said. "You live in a dream world—a haze of poetry and fuzzy ideas about revolution. To build something is not the same as dreaming it. Building is always a matter of well-chosen compromises."
"Yes," said Nilima. "Making us build it was probably the most important thing he did in his whole life. You can see the proof of that today. But if you'd told him that, he'd have laughed. He'd have said, 'It's just social service—not revolution.'"