| June 27, 2019

In the blink of an eye

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Well, it was definitely not a typical afternoon like the other afternoons, something was certainly weird about the air that I breathed and my heart was restless.

We had a Pooja ceremony in the terrace of our home – a three and a half story building -- in mid Baneshwar. About ten of my family members were seated, the Pooja had just begun when we felt the initial jolt and then the horror started.

The house was shaking so violently that we all bundled up in one place, holding one another. All I could hear were cries of shock and distress. (I can still feel the fear right now as I write this but am quite used to it now. Though my hands are still shaking, I continue writing.)

We were concerned about the older members and a little child present in the house at that moment. We felt that was the last day of our lives and that all of us were going to die a miserable and horrible death for sure. My eyes were tightly closed and I had no idea of the person I was holding onto.

When I gathered the courage to open my eyes, I was shocked to see cloud of dust emerging from a nearby building that was falling down. This further assured me that today would be the last day of my life. I felt so light. As soon as the shaking stopped, all of us ran toward the ground floor. I started calling rest of the family members as well as other people in the house. The wall of the neighboring house had fallen down and cracks started appearing on the house. People were running around senseless and praying for their safety.

But the horror continued with every jolt that hit every few minutes. We found an empty space nearby and were thankful that the owner did not build a house there otherwise there would be no space to take refuge at.

That afternoon went by somehow. We gradually heard news of Dharahara collapsing, destruction at various heritage sites and about the rising death toll.

As the night approached, we got even more scared about the increasing intensity and frequency of the aftershocks. There equally was an apprehension about heavy rains. No body slept that night.

The next morning brought a thin ray of hope but the anticipation for the next aftershock remained. The huge aftershock that hit around one in the afternoon added more pain in our heart and fear of death in our mind.

As evening approached, we fixed a make-shift tent to spend the night in but were alert in case there was rain so that we could move our shelter. Fortunately, there was only a light drizzle.

Even in such a situation, what was funny was that some people were selfishly arguing to secure a 'better' place in the tent and were not ready to share food or water. This somewhat sickened me and I thought god punished us for being too selfish and greedy.

I had a German friend named Regina, one I had known for a long time. She sent me some amount of money to help the victims of the quake, although the sum wasn't very large.

Helping the victim and to see them smile was the best gift ever and it was possible all because of my friend. I am really grateful to her for her relentless upport and concern.