Shweta Sharma files a report on Nepal – A week after – An unforgettable Saturday
“It looked like the walls of the house were converging and I would get trapped between them,” recollects Sudha Upadhaya, a week after the devastating earthquake rocked Nepal on a balmy Saturday afternoon.
Upadhyaya, 54, said she was watching television when the quake struck.
“Incidentally, the television was flashing a scroll message on how earthquakes cannot be predicted when it actually struck. Now I feel that the message was like a warning,” she recalled to a visiting IANS correspondent.
The housewife added that it was within seconds that her house started shaking like “they show it in the movies”, she said comparing it to “Earthquake”, a Hollywood movie made in 1974.
“I barely managed to walk to the door and just stood there holding it as tight as I could chanting all the mantras I know. I thought this was it,” she said, describing it as “the unforgettable Saturday”.
Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale on April 25, killing over 6,300 people, injuring more than 14,000 and rendering countless homeless. The death toll is expected to go up to 10,000, as per Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
For nearly a week, the people of this Himalayan country were sleeping in the open in tents braving the chill and rain that accompanied the quake. “We were too afraid to go back,” a resident said, adding, “The jolt was so intense that today also we feel the earth is shaking all the time”.
A resident of Gyaneshwor, a middle-class neighbourhood with a sizable population, Sudha lives with her husband and mother-in-law, who was on the top floor of their two and a half-storied house at that time.
“I was sleeping when suddenly the bed started shaking violently. I somehow managed to hold on to a chair in the room and just sat down clasping on to it,” her mother-in-law, Damayanti, 81, told IANS.
Rattled by the jolt, Upadhayas and their neighbours ran outside their houses and stayed there for over three hours.
Her husband, Phanindra Upadhyaya, a professor at Pokhara University, was conducting a workshop when the earthquake struck, which left nearly 78 people dead in India as well.
“It was only after an hour and a half that I could talk to her (Sudha) at home. I was conducting a workshop when the classroom started shaking and we all ran out,” Phanindra, 60, told IANS.
He added that the family took turns sleeping in their car parked inside their garage for two nights as “it was too unsafe to even think of stepping inside the house”.
However, the family is thankful that they survived the quake but showed concern for all the quake victims in the country.
But look at that, Phanindra said while pointing to a house right across the road “the wall collapsed and a driver was crushed to death.”
“Our car was jumping two feet up and down from the ground. Never have I seen such a thing happening,” Phanindra told IANS.
This is the saga of most of the Nepalese who have gone through this ordeal and had no such experience before. The last disaster that had struck this small country was in 1933.
Summing up however, Upadhyaya said, “No words can really describe what happened that day – a week that changed our lives forever.”