Sat, 05 Dec, 2020

The Earthquake Diary

By Abhusan Gautam

Photo Courtesy: http://news.harvard.edu/

I woke up disappointed with the loss in my last DOTA 2 match. I was in a 10-games-unbeaten run when I lost, so it was heartbreaking. I was in a pretty bad mood, quarreled with my father as soon as I woke up. Feeling remorse, I apologized and accepted their months’ long request to cut my hair. Soon, everything was done and I left for college: for the DOTA 2 Tournament.

The moment I left from the house, my mother stopped me and she pleaded me to not go. Of course there was no stopping me, so she requested that I call her as soon as I reached college. I said my casual OK, which meant I definitely wasn’t going to. On the way, I started thinking about this odd request from mom, something didn’t feel right. Why was she so super-concerned? Is it normal to be this afraid? After all, I’m only going to college, which is where I go every day. I imagined some disaster was going to happen, and I’ll be separated from my family. And what-do-you-know, I was right.

I reached my college at around 11 and The Music Club (Mostly Anmol) was teaching other people how to play guitar. Since there wasn’t anything to do, I stayed with the music club and tried to grasp the concept of holding a guitar. Of course, it was too complicated for me, but it was fun mocking Barsha (who was reading her Guitar lessons from her paper). It was 11:55 am, and there were 4 of us in the 4th floor: Anmol, Abhishek, Barsha and me.

I was looking around to find an inspiration for my next joke I was going to pull off; I noticed that something about the walls wasn’t right. Sure it wasn’t. The walls were dancing. Realizing it was an earthquake, three of us except Anmol, instantly ducked down and took shelter under the desk. Anmol ran outside trying to protect his laptop. I had never experienced anything like this in my life, and my life flashed before my eyes. I was scared, but too excited to let it show. Anmol was screaming “F***” from the next room, to which I assumed that he got hurt. Thankfully nothing happened. After a minute or long quake, it finally settled down so we rushed downstairs. The building survived the blow, but the walls were cracked in many places. I didn’t even look around to see the damage; all I wanted to do was get out of it alive.

[caption id="attachment_6565" align="aligncenter" width="964"]Some cracks on the walls of Deerwalk Some cracks on the walls of Deerwalk
Photo Courtesy: Ruby Shrestha[/caption]

I was greeted by the angry words of Anish, one of our friends:  “why the hell were the four of you still upstairs, why didn’t you run?” “Well, running didn’t seem like a proper earthquake solution so we ducked under the table”. There were plenty of people on the ground, many from Deerwalk Sevices and staff members. We were safe, and worried about our families. Electricity was cut off, there were no telecommunication networks in cell-phones but the landline seemed to be working. I dialed my brother’s number and said hello 4 times. He replied back with his hello, I didn’t sense any fear or sadness in his voice, so I assumed everyone was fine. He had no idea that I was the caller, he explained later.

We were sure that there would be aftershocks, so we stayed in the open space in the college. At the moment, I was super excited experiencing the earthquake I had never experienced before. Soon, students joined us in the college and we shared our stories of survival. Many small aftershocks happened, so we were firmly placed on the ground. The excitement was too much to handle when two brothers, Rakesh and Arjan explained the Chaos outside. They were there for the DOTA 2 Tournament we were organizing, so I saluted their devotion.

We walked outside and saw a different world, some buildings (including a super new one) were fully cracked, and some were on the brink of falling. The famous JayaBageshwori Temple was destroyed and so were the houses around it. I got to know that the famous DHARAHARA building, one of the proudest landmarks in Nepal had crumbled to the ground, along with other famous historical monuments like Kasthamandap near Basantapur, Vatsala Durga Temple in Bhaktapur, and many more. We learnt that many people died, which set a different mood to us, I was happy about experiencing the quake, but now was extremely sad to hear the loss of lives and infrastructures. I was worried about my home, but I believed in my confidence which explained that everything was alright. Soon my mother called me to confirm that they were safe, so my worries were gone. After 2 pm and several aftershocks, we left for our homes.