It's a beautiful October morning. One of those Saturday mornings when I wake up with no specific AIs in mind, for the day. My bedroom wall clock tells me it's just about 9 am.. well, today I have the privilege to doze off again and catch up on a l'il more of sleep..
mebbe not? what's that exponentially booming sound? an airplane? must be! Only it sounds more like it's just taking off from the terrace of the building.. n getting louder by the millisecond..
Aha! even the window panes seem to have picked up the rhythm.. must be one of those aerial exercises of IAF.. but wait a sec, do they have a base here in Mohali? wotever..
ok, so now it's the turn of my bed to take its cue.. this building sure isn't too strong, except for the elaborate sugar coatings of being pretty comfy n well furnished... mebbe I should re-consider my plan of asking my folks to come over for a visit? the safety quotient of this place is way too low.. what with the weirdo way of house construction they do here, with adjacent buildings sharing common walls n all that! anyways, one more month, and I should be ready to eject from here to the more familiar and comfy terrains of Bangalore.. :)
phew! now why are these windows banging so madly at each other?? n the wardrobes are busy doing their tango! n what the hell is wrong with this bed? it's switched from its vibrating mode to a shaky mode. n that's the last thing needed for me, the sleepy head on it, to get on my feet. must be the 1st time in ages since I climbed out of my bed so soon after waking up on a beautiful weekend morning!
uh oh! this is as worse as it could get. the floor beneath is swinging indeed!
Could this be one of my usual weirdo nightmares? I should mail Dimple about it.. somehow she's the only soul in this beeg world who has it in her to listen to my hopelessly freaky dreams! no wonder friends say, she's patience epitomized!
Hey, what if it is for real? Women in the nearby buildings are screaming out to their folks to get out asap!
ok! so, it IS, what I think it is! i better rush outta here soon..
but wait a sec, I don't want to go out in my sleeping pyjamas, do I? what if I have to go to one of those godforbidden relief camps? u never know!
Ever tried getting into your most skinny pair of stretch jeans while swinging? well I just did that, as it was the 1st thing I could get my hands on..(-had to subject myself to an excruciating hour long lecture from Papa on 'presence-of-mind when it matters the most', later! Detailing, my friends, is not always a good idea, more so when you are talking about your follies, and most importantly, when you are talking about it to your parents!) and grabbed my cellphone on my way, just in time before the books started falling off the shelf!
One of those times when you feel like swearing on Murphy's law.. "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way" -yes, indeed! so the door just decides to put its foot down n wouldn't budge! Only then does the dumbhead on this side realise that she has to turn the keys to get to the other side of it! so, off I rush, bumping into the horizontally challenged lady who stays upstairs (she usually stops for a break at 1st floor -where I lived, to take a breather before climbing up or down) struggling her way down..
Trust me, Stairs is the most dangerous place to be, in a situation like this. 'coz when most of the building swings in a rhythm, thanks to the absence of strong beams, the stairs swing incoherently...
So I get out of the building to find a totally shaken Rosy bhabi with her not-at-all-bothered 4 yr old son Digant, frantically calling out to her hubby to get the hell out of the bathroom. She hastily thrusts her son's hand onto a still-wondering-whether-it's-a-nightmare me, to see her hubby get to safety, clad in her fuschia pink dupatta.
Digant has always been good company.. Infact he was the best of friends I had there, who would wait for me to get back from work, to share all his chronicles of the long day at School with attempting to learn English alphabets and the tricky on-too-thee-fows. We would settle on the stairs for our usual late evening chats, and an occasional ride for him on my scooter around the neighbourhood park. That day, we were there holding hands, both of us full of wonder at what's happening. A totally carefree him, who did not even understand what is going on.. and a not-at-all-experienced, but well informed me, for whom the worst nightmare ever was to find myself struggling for life under the rubbles of a collapsed building.
The young lady next door, who was trying to reach her away-at-work hubby over her cellphone to alarm him about this, broke into a high-frequency shriek! the dumbstruck audience around could not hold it back when she started screaming over the phone: "what, u were already outside the building? n till now, u didn't feel like calling up home to make sure whether your wife n kid are alright?" the whole crowd was laughing.. an eerie, nervous, gigglish laughter.
I dint have the faintest idea of how strong or destructive it was, and was wondering whether it would be ok to call up home? will it get them worried? will the phone-lines get jammed as it happens at such times?
My cellphone beeps. Ok, the network's alright. it's an sms: "mein tehra raha.. zameen chalne lagi.. dhadka yeh dil, saas dhamne lagi.. kya yeh mera pehla pehla pyar he?" Reply: "abbe.. yeh toh earthquake he.. chal bhaag nikal!"
The Kashmir earthquake / The Great Pakistan earthquake of 8th October 2005, was a major 7.6 magnitude earthquake, of which the epicentre was at the Pakistan-administered Kashmir. It was a killer quake which directly affected about 4 million people, and many of them who were lucky to survive the quake were not lucky enough to survive the harsh Himalayan winter that followed. There are people who are still reeling under the terror and misery.
More on the statistics and relief efforts can be found here and here.
Two years on... peace be to the souls of the victims of this nature's fury. and God bless the courageous people who've survived it all in a valley which unfortunately has been under the siege of terrorist attacks, time and again.