(Baffled and Shattered; feels like yesterday!)
Oh! IT was Exam day
I was ecstatic that day as nearly a month long monotonous theory exams was on verge of getting over. Wow! The exam paper seemed as easy as pie (May be because Communication was one my favorite subject!) It was 11.50am (Nepalese Standard Time) guys in the front row of examination hall suddenly yelled out and fled out of the room as if a referee whistled to start the marathon race. Some were with answer sheets in their hands and some didn’t give a damn to carry it. I vividly remember one of my friends Ashish grabbed my hand and asked to escape onto the ground, signaling emergency. I had no clue of ongoing scenario until I heard the crowd grumbling “Earthquake! Earthquake!!” while getting downstairs.
Hearing the word Earthquake, in no time my senses became hyperactive and only then I realized the quake involuntarily controlling my footsteps. From the ground we could observe the old building (our examination hall) dancing with to and fro jerky movements. Floppy Conducting wires, panicked examination invigilators and clueless students could be compared to a fictional movie plot. Nevertheless, youthful courage overcame fear and we decided to continue with exams. Students rushed upstairs collected their incomplete answer sheets and returned back to the ground. Time and again aftershocks swung over us, we paused, stared at each other and again continued afterwards. Yeah; we continued and completed examination sitting in an open basketball court and jerking along with the quake.
Sounds crazy??? Yeah! But we didn’t give up; we completed our exams in a historic way.
Rumors all around! How much did the quake worth in real?
Mobile networks weren’t available and with a series of interlaced questions in my mind I returned back home from college. On the way, everyone was busy drawing conclusions about the losses that have occurred. Some claimed, many people are underneath the collapsed buildings in Kathmandu (our crowded capital city). One man pointing to the picture in his mobile uttered in fear,” See! The roads are cracked. This picture is posted by my friend in Kathmandu”. Another woman screamed, quake is an evil spell for our country. Human beings have lost humanity, devils are ruling the world and this quake is symbolic of all our sins. Others were expressing their deep concern for safety of their relatives who were far away. Predictions and predictions, everyone was lost in figuring out what exactly the catastrophe resulted?
Rumors travel at the speed of light in my country, I thought. I assumed people blabbered baselessly out of fear and anxiety.
And the reality proved to be worst than nightmare……
Telephone lines were disturbed, electricity was cut off, out of fear and uncertainty people gathered in open spaces and fields. Internet connection worked slowly as snail but I must be thankful at least they worked. Social networking sites were occupied with pictures of casualties, disparity and prayers. Mourning news all over, death tolls was increasing every minute. Collapsed buildings, efforts in clearing the debris and challenges to rescue the trapped people fighting a losing battle. Hospitals with traumatized patients, yell of pain, broken treatment, inadequate open space, dilemma of health workers, shortage of critical medical supplies, upsurge of patients inflow and the people scared to death, everything added up to the havoc. Risks of landslides in hills, polluted water sources and epidemic outbreak of cholera were suspected with overcrowding and unhygienic living conditions. Centuries old heritages including Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Changu Narayan Temple, Kathmandu Durbar Square and soon turned into rubbles in no time. Sleepless night under open sky without food and water, as if Earth somersaulted within few seconds. Children, disabled, oldies and pregnant women were in the front line of vulnerability.
Felt as if it took ages for the next dawn, but even the sunrays couldn’t end the darkness engulfing the nation. To no surprise, a major aftershock hit next day at 12.54pm (NST). Though entire population was aware with the first struck and applied safety measures as feasible with their best understanding but still casualties didn’t halt.
Nation was paralyzed and a state of emergency was declared by government and assistance from international community was sought.
With all my concise I then tried to convince people around me to have patience, stay alert and follow safety measures but human nature was obvious to panic in such a misery. A year has passed since the catastrophe but the memories are fresh and revolve around my eyes vividly.
Yeah! It feels like yesterday………..
(To be continued in Part II)