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Living through fear.

Saurav Dhungana
Kathmandu, May 15, 2015

It was April 25th, 2015 and it was a Saturday. The weather was chilly quite unusual for this time of the year. I was planning to take a quick nap after finishing the lunch. My sister was already dreaming. She has recently finished her SLC exam and in her long vacation. My cousin Saroj who lives with us was preparing for his college exams. Dad was reading newspaper. That is what I recall before everything changed.
I felt a slight tremor. Dad was quick on his feet and shouted earthquake!!! We were on the second floor of the house. Running outside was out of option. The slight tremor changed into a huge seismic vibration, something I had never witnessed in my life. We couldn't just run because the vibration was so strong that we would just fall like any other objects. I and my cousin stood beneath the doors which we had learned in school was safer to stand during earthquake. My mom however, was at the balcony of the house which obviously was the most dangerous place to be at during an earthquake. No matter how much we tried to stay strong a quake of that magnitude turned us blank. When the quake stopped, I took my mom out she couldn't say anything but "Ram,Ram, Ram." She was chanting Hindu god name. Soon we were outside the house. I could see the neighbors in their bare feet. One of our neighbor’s house wall had fallen. At that time all the modes of communications were down except for the radio on our cell phones. Then we realized that we had just overcome a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake. We were all frightened but calm. When we were just recollecting our senses an aftershock hit. After few missed and dropped connections we were able to contact our village and learned that my dad’s parental home was destroyed by the quake and so was the cousin’s home too. But we were glad that our grandmother and the aunt were fine. When my dad narrated the story about how they escaped the quake I had goosebumps.
When my cousin and I went for a walk later around the town we saw that all the old temples were in rubbles the destruction was much bigger than I could think of. Everything was in chaos. People were running around, crying the loss of their dear ones and their properties. We felt lucky that we did not lose anyone from our immediate family. The loss of parental home was indeed very emotional. My dad managed to get hold of few tarps and we sent my cousin and his dad to our grandma’s house with the tents and few other essentials. We also camped outside that night outside with a tarp over ours head. In fact we stayed four successive nights under that tarp. In some ways we were lucky. Some people did not even have tarps over their head and were cramped in overly crowded rain shelters.
I have come to realize that it was not the quake that caused the deaths but the thing we build for our safety and security like houses, walls and big gates. Another thing I realized was that it was fear which was our greatest enemy. Fear of oblivion and rumors of another even bigger earthquake weakened us mentally. People use the name and authenticity of news services like the BBC and CNN and citing reports from organization like the NASA. Obviously, people had access to too much information and weren’t carefully scrutinizing it before spreading or sharing the news and rumors.
This is my story and my name is Saurav Dhungana. I am lucky to be alive and none of my friends and family members were physically hurt by the earthquake. After over 100 big and small aftershocks I have learned to live through it. Reading news about some unfortunate people who lost their friends and family members melts my heart and brings a mutual feeling of losing someone and something. After this disaster which shattered our country and left us in the darkness all we can do is hope and pray for the ones who are most affected.

My childhood home only left me memories …

Surendra Prajapati
Madison, WI, April 30

I got a call from my father about 1:30 am CST Saturday morning and told me about the earthquake. After that, it took a long time to reconnect with my family again and account for everyone in my family. Though my immediate family is safe, we lost two grandmothers, a grandfather, two aunts and a 18 month old cousin in my neighborhood. Several of my neighbors lost their only home. We also lost the home I grew up in and lived until I came to the USA in 2004. The house only left us memories and this tragedy. In addition, we lost of a lot or architectural monuments and historical buildings which are part of our identity and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. I am afraid my beautiful city will never look the same. We are in difficult times currently. However, I believe people in my town, Bhaktapur will go through this adversity and rebuild the city. And, we need your help and support.

Tears and Scares of Mother Nepal

Bimal Kumar Khen
Chitwan, April 30

Tears that can be heard as one can whisper the mourning of tremors and the shatters that have scared lives forever.
The day that changed the outlook of the country in split seconds will always remain engraved inside each of us. The mass destruction and the aftermath devastation is still blood boiling. The scar of the catastrophe will haut forever and the tremors are still pulsating the nerves.
One sweet weekend (Saturday; 11:55 am) that was the last one of more than 5000 people is beyond words to express. Destroyed in seconds, the country lost thousands of homes and villages in no time. What left behind are the ruins and rumbles crumbled in pain, agony and frustration.
This has been the moment NEPAL can be proud of with all these movement going globally unified in one umbrella. The country will remain in-debt to national heroes (especially Police and Army) forever to for their endless effort on the rescue program knowing that they themselves have lost their own family in the disaster. Not to mention, more than 90% of the civil servant officer comes from the remote villages of Nepal.
On the other hand, when country needed the most; our so called LEADERS have failed to redeem their duties. Volunteers and international aids have been rejected due to political and bilateral conflict. We are ashamed of our own act for choosing you.
The blood of the victim has no gender, nationality or religion so are the assistance they are looking for. Every help is a bundle of joy in this fragile moment of broken hopes.

I felt like it was my last day

Yam Nath Bhattarai
Kathmandu, April 30

I was sitting on a sofa and my child was on her little walker. Suddenly I noticed her face turning strange and simultaneously I felt the quake. As soon as it began I picked her up and then the chaos began. I was in the third floor of a building built in a narrow street in Kathmandu. At one point I even stopped thinking of escaping. I saw the hanging picture on the wall falling and I lost hope of being alive. I could see the neighboring building swinging through the window. It appeared to be the last day on earth for me. Somehow I found myself alive where more than 5,000 have lost their lives. I am now sheltering at a school compound . It is not safe here. Diseases outbreak looms large. We can smell the dead bodies being burnt here in Kalopul. I plan to take my family out of this town as soon as I can.

The houses where I spent most of my childhood vacations are gone

Shashi Dhungel
Paola, April 28

My grandma and my aunt were sitting in the pidi of my aunt’s house and talking about paddy plantations this year when the quake hit, my uncle told me yesterday over facebook voice chat. They are now living in a tent set on a field which for all of my childhoold years was planted with a special kind of greens native to that part of the world. The field has a special name rayo ko pata. My uncle told me that when he drove his motorcycle to get to my grandmother’s house he stopped at a little neighborhood in Bhaktapur called Byasi. Most of the houses on either side of the road that led to the Bhaktapur Durbar Square from Byasi are gone. They have collapsed into the road. I remember riding my motorcycle through that road when I was learning to ride, and countless times when we made trips to my grandparents’ house and Nagarkot – a very popular tourist destination in Nepal. This is just my story. The grief that every Nepali heart has at this time is insurmountable. All have lost something that they cherished in their life.

My uncle lost his house

Bijay Joshi
Sallaghari, April 29

My uncle Tara Pradhananga lost his home to the quake. I remember many of my childhood days spending in that house. Sixteen people used to live in the house of which seven were children between 7 – 14. Ujjam is the youngest of these kids whom I saw about 3 weeks ago. I am lucky in a sense that our house did not fall apart but I am equally torn apart by what is in my surrounding. Bhaktapur is badly destroyed. All the ancient architecture is now in the rubble. Rescue efforts though in full force it is not adequate. People are in desperate need of help.

Pokhara standing strong

Sarik Dhungel
Pokhara, April 29

More than 90% people of the houses in Pokhara did not collapse despite the 7.9 rector scale earthquake that has shattered Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitput and other neighboring districts. While the houses have stood strong people here are extremely terrified. They are sleeping outside their houses as the after shocks keep on reinstating the fear. Lot of students travel from other parts of the country to attend colleges in this beautiful touristic town. These students are finding it difficult to keep their spirit up and help who need support as banks are not providing services on whom they rely for financial services for the daily needs. The hotels and restaurants are open and are able to keep up with the demand. The fear however is that they will be out of fuel and food soon and they will have to shut their doors. These students are trying to get out of the town to go to their parents or guardians but roadways are in bad condition and are overcrowded.
Pokhara seems to be doing well compared to other parts of the country. May god help the victims.