12 MAY 2015
(17 Days after the deadly M7.8 Gorkha Earthquake)
The day began on a rather hopeful note. The sky had cleared up after the heavy shower of the earlier night (the night when I celebrated my supposed survival by daring to go watch Avengers: Age of Ultron 3D).
As the sun shone on my bed and basked me in its comforting warmth, my heart jumped with an epiphany.
Yes, this is it! This is how the chaos ends. It’s just too perfect!
Funny how something as simple as the clouds in the sky has such a high co-relation with the hormonal activities in your brain.
I remember making a mental note to myself at the moment that the worst was over, and now I had to do everything in my power to bring my life back to normalcy.
Little did I know.
Sometime around 12:47 pm (thanks to WIKIPEDIA)
I was watching some video on YouTube in my office, and guffawing at god knows what with one of my colleagues.
I stopped abruptly as I thought I felt a tremor. A violent shock that felt something like missing a step on the stairs — though I was unsure if it wasn’t just a random jolt of my muscle. Without a warning then, everyone around me started to rush out. Now, our office is at the second floor so you can probably imagine the panic.
I followed the crowd but was still pondering if it was even necessary. I mean I felt the tremor, obviously, but was cautiously waiting for it to pass (like those other times in the past few days). Turned out, it had no plans to do that just yet.
The journey downstairs was one of those blurred moments in life that we cannot tell with certainty if it even happened to us.
The next memory is of reaching the open parking lot of our office. Facebook and mobile apps update that the quake was of M7.3 and the epicenter was Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha. Some say it was an aftershock, others bring news that it’s a whole new monster. Either way, it was a devastating one.
We try desperately to contact our families but the connections are jammed. If it’s hard fighting a life-threatening earthquake, it’s harder doing it without the people you love the most in the world around you. Some would argue it’s harder if your loved ones are with you because then you would be scared for their safety. But they don’t know what they’re talking about. Families that are together when such a disaster strikes are already a lot luckier than those who are not.
Two (or three) days later
Our second attempt at getting back to normalcy.
We go back to work. Watch our CCTV footage from the earlier day (the day we ran for life), and laugh at ourselves. That’s right. Laughter cures.
We also thank that no one got hurt that day in the stairs. They say frenzied rushing causes more injuries than the falling buildings, and I think I now know why. But what I also know is that the next time something like this happens again (don’t listen to me God… just a puny human blogging here), we will repeat the same mistake. We have become weak. Emotionally and psychologically. And the continuous aftershocks has left little room for a quick recovery. No matter how much we prepare ourselves, we will crack under the fear. Again.
One thing is certain, though. Yes, much of it is about being lucky. Or about the timing. But how much we prepare ourselves psychologically… matters.
We, for sure, weren’t ready for the second earthquake so soon. It shook our homes and our hearts. The life is far from normal. We go to work but are often not sure if it’s even worth the trouble. What if there’s a bigger quake coming? What if Kathmandu becomes the next epicenter? What if this… what if that? Uncertainty mounts. Answers are nowhere. Well, right answers, at least, are nowhere. And don’t even think about suggesting the internet. We have checked just about every fucking site that has even a remotest of connection to the words “earth” and “quake”. Except, perhaps, the rated sites. But give it time, we’ll get there too.
The point, however, is that when it comes to earthquake, it seems no one has the tiniest of clue of what they are talking about. They explain about patterns and numbers and theories and probabilities. But the thing about patterns and probabilities is that they assume too much. They tell things with limited degree of certainty. Yeah, thank you, data guy. I’ll pass.
So what do we do now? Bemoan forever? Wait grimly for that next inevitable tremor that is supposed to destroy all of Kathmandu? The big one which can arrive anytime in the next decade, next year, next month, week, day? Do we really wait in fear for that long? Do we just stop… living? Go Buddha?
Well, regarding this, at least, there is an absolute certainty. And that is a big fucking “no”. No, we do not. We move on. We try to take the loss in our hearts and we move on. We have to. Or else, how will Nepal? There is no system restore button on this one. And there is nothing else to do than be optimistic and hope.
Because when it comes to fighting fear, there is no greater weapon than hope.
And there, certainly, are no better “wielders” of it than us humans.