My account of 25th April 2015 great quake
7th May 2015
We are still sleeping with our lights on. The nights have become a little less tensed but still we have fear of aftershocks that have plagued the hearts of many people in the country.
Whenever I remember 25th April 2015, I still have shivers down my spine. I watch you tube videos of the great quake of 11:55 am and I find myself shaking from within. It’s still fresh and the wound has not even started to dry.
There was a 12 year Bungamati Jatra going on at Lalitpur. Me and my sister had plans to visit on that day and I have even asked Dipen (special one) to come along. Mom was sick because of diarrhoea and stomach pain, which had been having from the night before. I have already decided to not take her along despite her insistence. My father had to go to 10 yr anniversary of Bajracharya Sangathan Guthi, a party going to be held at Sasa Banquet, Teku. Mom was telling me to drop dad at Teku but instead he told me that he and his friends would be gathering at Ason and then would be leaving for Teku together. So I said I would drop him at Ason instead (one of the hit areas of earthquake). I hadn’t bathed for some days. The day wasn’t hot but I was sweaty and I wanted to bathe quickly so that we could leave for Bungamati soon. But I decided to bathe only after I had dropped off dad. As usual dad was fussing about walking to Ason but I hurriedly dressed up so that he wouldn’t have any choice than to go with me.
Babu (nephew) was playing outside with his friends. He was allowed to play outside to release the tension of the car accident they had the day before on the way to Manakamana (also one of the badly hit areas by the great quake). My brother with my sister in law and babu had an accident. They didn’t decide to stay the night at Manakamana, which was a good fate all in all.
I took my scooter out of our gate, parked it next to our wall. I was watching my nephew play cricket with two other boys. As soon as I heard my dad’s voice, I started my scooter and waited for him to climb at the back. I pressed the ignition and let it heat for some minutes. My nephew was now showing his bat moves to his grandfather hence the delay. I was on my scooter with the engine on when I heard my mom called to me on our mother tongue, “so Maicha vokhwa vou the cho” “Look Maiya, I think there’s an earthquake”. In the mid of that sentence, I felt the ground tremble vertically. I literally saw the ground shake in jittery waves. I found out about the quake before I even felt it. I turned off my scooter and ran away to where my dad and Babu were. My dad and Babu were running inside our house with the other boys. He was hurriedly escorting Babu to move inside. I shouted at my dad not to go inside but they were already at the entrance. Thinking the way was already cramped with four people, I ran past my house instead, to the back where there was a small open space. At that time, I thought that was a usual tremor like the one that we had couple of months ago and it would end soon. But the wall of the neighbouring house was shaking to and fro so violently that only then I knew that this earthquake was bad. I remember a neighbour lady run past me. I was then afraid of flower pots falling on me from the terrace of our house that were lined up at the edge. Then again I realized I had my helmet on, however I was afraid of it falling on my body. So I decided to run away from our side of the wall to the other. Except the other wall was also having a hard time. I tried to switch side but the quake shifted me to the same side and I dashed on our wall. A second after that, the shaky wall opposite me slammed to the ground. I didn’t think one second after that and I ran on top of those debris to get to that free space. I somehow stepped on those bricks but those violet quakes were completely disabling me to walk, let alone run. I remember moving forward like I was massively drunk. Also there were bricks and I was wearing heels. I tried to run as fast as I could but suddenly I fell flat on my chest to the brick laddened ground. I hurriedly lifted myself up only to stumble to the ground on the other side hence I decided to walk on fours and finally reached to the free space. I was panting so much like I had run a marathon. I felt the ground move in round motion then. After couple of seconds, it stopped.
I waited for my family to come outside but they were taking time. When I saw them, they were searching for me and looking towards where I have left my scooter. Apparently it also fell. I ran towards them in hurry and my dog, which was being held by my brother. He said he ran inside to the top floor (where my and my sister's room is at) instead of running outside. Poor boy must have thought our room was the safest, where he usually goes when some one scolds him. My brother went to lock the house after turning the lights and the gas off. We all gathered towards that free space along with several people who also have gathered for safety. Everybody who were present there were in such a shock, some were crying and some were in complete trauma. I saw my nephew’s lips become so dry, it was all white. Poor boy got so scared that all of his blood went dry.
After a while, the quake hit again. It was in round motion. Most of the ladies there started to cry. It has been said that if the quake comes, the men should shout and the ladies should press their thumb and call out our mother earth. So we all copied the eldest of our neighbour. But we were all shouting and crying too. The earth was shaking violently. It was terrifying to even recall. After a while that also stopped and we were all shaken again. For a whole hour, terrifying aftershock came and went. As my sister was using the Samsung tab when the quake hit, she was holding the tab. She opened facebook and found out someone had posted a collapsed Dharahara picture. It was unreal and for a while I didn’t want to believe it. A neighbour arrived from Basantapur and showed us the picture of the crumbling Hanuman Dhoka. That made my heart break so much. I tried to call Dipen but the network wasn’t there. I have never been that worried in my life before. I couldn’t reach both of his numbers. After 3 or 4 hours, I went inside our house with my brother because I wanted to pee. I decided to run upstairs and grab our cell phones. I quickly ran to our room and hurriedly pick mine and my sister’s phone. I also grabbed whatever I could find from our kitchen, two bottles of water and some snacks. When I reached to the free space, I looked at my phone. I found several missed calls of him. Only then I was able to breathe. I called him from my sister’s phone which had a network. His family and him were having lunch when the quake hit and they were safe. Most of the people went to the football ground at the other place. Only our family and our neighbour’s family decided to stay at the free space.
Violent after shocks came and went number of times that day. Everybody was afraid to go inside. The night slowly crept in and everybody was worried that the quake would come again at night. We tried to sleep outside the porch of our house but eventually a violent tremor early in the morning scared us to move outside again. We spent three days outside that free space with the tent my dad and brother went to fetch from our go down at Ason. While living in that tent, we heard so many heart breaking stories of people dying and houses collapsing. The most hit areas at Kathmandu were Hanuman Dhoka, Tyouda (near Ason), Gongabu (where well built tall building collapsed and several were trapped and died). Kuleshwor, Sobhavagwati (near where we stayed), Swayambhu (one of the popular tourist site), Patan, Bhaktapur etc. Other severaly hit areas outside of the valley were Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk, Dhanding etc. These villages are all wiped out completey. They are still having problems getting aid.
I also heard stories about some close calls. I found out a friend’s sister’s boy friend died at Tyouda. A house collapsed on him with three other boys. Apparently he had called my friend’s sister to join him only moments before the earthquake hit. They had a conversation on the phone. A couple who were on top of the Dharahara tower went down with the collapse tower and came out with only scratches. But there were sad stories as well. A man who went away from a snack shop just a minute before the earthquake couldn’t make it. His body was only recovered after three days after the shop keeper insisted police to find him because he was sure the man went that way. His body was found with the snack in his mouth that he had purchased in that shop. I also heard there was a blood donation program being held at Kasthamandap, which is not nothing but rubble. Hundreds of people died there who were there to donate blood.
I still feel shaken whenever I recall that day. It was fortunate that it happened on Saturday and all of the family members were together. It was luck that me and my dad weren’t already at Ason. It was fortunate that my sister, Dipen and I weren’t in the midst of Bungamati crowd. But it has not been fortunate for many people of our country who lost their lives and lost their loved ones and property. This experience has taught me not to take anything for granted. This life is uncertain; we never know what would happen to us or happen to our family. We ought to be grateful with whatever we have and be thankful for god’s decisions.
Bungamati Jatra: www.imnepal.com/rato-machhendranath-jatra-chariot-festival-nepal/
Bajracharya Sangathan Guthi: “Bajracharya conservation program” A group consisting of Bajracharya’s (one of the oldest natives of Kathmandu, Nepal)
Maiya: Every mother calls her daughter maiya # general name for daughters
Dharahara: The ancient 9 storey tower at Sundhara, Kathmandu
Basantapur: One of the historical sites of Kathmandu, now destroyed by the great quake
Hanuman Dhoka: The oldest Palace popular for tourist from around the world destroyed by the quake.
Kasthamandap: An ancient temple situated as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square. Temple made out of a single tree.