Monday, October 10, 2005
Death in the Dell
Aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Kashmir on Oct 8,2005
The ground beneath their feet shook. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale hit Kashmir -- my home -- and Pakistan. It took little under a minute to undo what was carefully assembled over endless years of hard work. Homes came crumbling down, trees shook, turnpikes were ripped open as if sliced by a some piked object. The epicentre was in Kashmir, that is the Pakistan-administered part of it and the shock waves sent people scurrying for cover in places as far as New Delhi.
Quakes shake consciences. It shook the whole of valley and Pakistan to its innards. Hundreds of thousands died. They say more than 15,000 may have perished in Muzzafarabad alone. One of our relatives -- living in Muzzafarabad -- told my family over telephone that his teacher wife was missing. He fears the worst. She is among the countless unaccounted for. Nature's fury is cadaverous, merciless. It leaves children and the sick trampled in its tracks. Thats exactly what happened in Kashmir. School children are still buried in the rubble of their classrooms and dormitories,the state administration is dazed, too paralysed to act.
I talked to my family many times over on Phone. I called up my friends in Kashmir also. They are all in a state of shock. Traumatised and scared. I think it is natural after a major accident for people to behave like that. I'm stressed out -- away from home -- watching the horror unfold on my TV. Sheer imagery of people, blood still dripping, being carried away, of women wailing, of the sick shivering in the cold. It looks a slice of the Armageddon but this pain is too real to be passed over.
I was informed that my bedroom -- back home -- has developed cracks. All books fell off my book racks and piled up on floor. "Only a copy of the Holy Q'uran remained on the shelf," my little sister added. I could only gasp. I don't believe in such stuff but in times of great adversity, only the unpalatable becomes palatable. Like a guy who was pulled out out the ruins of a multi-storied apartment building in Islamabad, yesterday, three days after the quake.
Grisly stories of mother's spitting in their kids mouth to keep them moist and people staying out in the open night skies fills me with melancholy. They say it was raining and people huddled together to keep each other warm. The best of human beings comes out in the worst of times, as they say. Tremors and after-shocks continue to scare people, as I post.
The United Nations warned today that more than 2.5 million people needed shelter.
My heart goes out to the countless dead and injured.
I hope the anguish and pain is soon over.
I pray, people pick up the pieces shortly.
I yearn the flowers bloom again.
God bless them all, us all.