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“I tell you, this is the scariest movie I have ever watched,” I was telling my younger cousin Ashish who came to visit us on vacation because he recently completed his SLC examination. We were about to watch a horror movie. “Nah, nothing scares me," he said bravely as if he was challenging me. “Let’s play it then,” I followed up with a response quickly. As soon as we played the movie, something started shaking and we foolishly thought for a moment, it was some kind of 3D effect of the movie. We looked at each other not realizing of what was going on. The sound was disturbingly complementing the sound of the shake. “Earthquake, Earthquake”, the voices started to arise from the neighborhood.
Everybody has a story to tell. The most infamous question, “What were you doing at the time of the earthquake?” Some of us are really lucky. We can have a laugh about the question and tell some interesting story that we remember so vividly with every little detail. But some people have lost so much; they have totally repressed the horrific images floating around their head.
Earthquake took so much from us and for a moment we thought we deserved mercy and moment to grieve but the aftermath of the devastation didn’t allow people to even go near their homes. No electricity, telephone lines were too busy and we were lucky to even get a call and talk to the loved ones.
After realizing what was really happening, Ashish and I ran towards our mom walking towards the stairs, thankfully she was coming down the stairs more scared than ever. “Get out, Get out “ she said furiously as if she was angry for us coming upstairs rather than running for our lives. We had to reach the parking lot which was an open space with no human construction surrounding it which was approximately 50 meters from our house. Survival instinct, adrenaline or whatever it was, second thing we remember was reaching there seeing all the dancing houses.
Still clueless of the gravity of the situation, I was patronizing my cousin,” Scared of nothing, huh? “He didn’t dignify it with a response because he was breathing heavily and utterly scared. We sat there for a moment. People started listening to radio from their mobile phones because electricity was down as well. Somebody started crying that Dahara was completely destroyed. I knew for a fact, the strong earthquake of 1934 had destroyed Dahara and it was rebuilt. The giant circle of life was sprinkling down over my head. The news of destruction and death toll kept coming. What felt like a cool apocalypse, was turning into a national crisis and horror for many people.
Before the earthquake, it was a normal day, people spending quality time with their family on the weekend and living day to day life. But after the earthquake, seniors of our society gathered and stepped in for their family and their society. We had to get through the night safe and sound. So it was decided not to stay inside the house that day. Sherpa Dai who is also the owner of the Sherpa Party Palace had tent used for all the party events. With a combined effort, we built a huge tent in the parking lot enough for almost 100 people to stay inside the tent. Sherpa Dai also had a place inside the party palace like a one storied house but it had the roof built of card wood. It was built for events such as marriage and social events and was completely safe for the earthquake. He invited the founding families of the society to stay inside the house. Even rain wouldn’t affect the place. We were lucky enough and hadn’t had to worry for the first couple of days. Sherpa Dai was literally a life saver.
We somehow got to contact our grandparents, sister who is in Malaysia doing her Hotel Management Internship and our close family members. Everybody was safe. It was a relief of some kind even it was a long tiring day. Earthquake wasn’t so scary after all but the aftermath was. The rumors floating around were scary. The wait for another earthquake was scary. There were crack all around houses in the neighborhood. Any moment inside the house for some sort of activity felt like this could be the last moment. The news of people getting killed and graphic details about it was scary. You could hear the heart of the mother earth pumping. Every experience was scary.
It has been a week since the earthquake but I have been living with the nightmare so vivid till today. A dream of some sort keeps haunting me. I see myself sleeping in the same place I sleep every night. I am dreaming inside my dream and suddenly there is a huge thunder from the cloud, earth starts shaking with tremendous intensity and I wake up and everything I see is getting destroyed. We are looking at doomsday and I wake up from the original dream.
For some people, my worst nightmare has already turned into reality but after the experience I have grown stronger. I found true companionship, true happiness and senses and emotions have heightened. If fear doesn’t kill us, nothing will. I gathered with my friends during the worst tremors after that and started making jokes out of it. We sang, played guitar, cards and spent the most horrific time of our lives in sheer joy.
If it weren’t for the right place and right time, we could just as easily have been one of the victims. Life is too short to be taken for granted. It’s time to get better not bitter. We will come back stronger.
Rest in Peace to all the departed souls.