My lockdown experience was pretty clichéd. Every day was the same in my house in the middle of the capital city, Kathmandu, even with my brother back home from college. I attended online classes, tried some new recipes, cut my own hair…you get the idea. Until one night.
I have always assumed that not even an earthquake could wake me up when I was asleep. Turns out, I was very wrong.
You must have a pretty good idea about a teenager’s reaction to waking up at 5 am. Especially when the said teenager was up past midnight, engrossed in Dan Brown’s mysteries. I scrunched my eyes and turned to my side, bringing the blanket over my eyes. I swear, if my brother is trying to prank me again, I’ll –
My inner monologue stopped when I realized that it wasn’t a hand on my shoulder that had shaken me awake.
I opened my eyes, and they immediately fixated on the swinging ceiling-fan. I quickly glanced across the room and saw the silhouette of a rattling chair. In the distance, I could hear the street dogs barking.
The earthquake was of 5.4 magnitude. Not big enough to cause death and destruction, but enough to take us all back to that dreadful Saturday of April 2015. The day when 9000 Nepalis got crushed to death.
I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I was in that very room, seated on the bed, but with a six-month-old and a three-year-old girl. Just five minutes prior to the quake, I had asked them if they wanted to play in my room, taking them from their mother, who was still having lunch at our little family reunion. I remembered staring at the same fan and trying to shield the girls’ heads with an arm while scooting away on the bed, just in case the fan dropped on us. I remembered their eyes wide and scared, their hands clutching my t-shirt in tight grasps. I remembered a soft voice asking me what was happening.
I also remember what happened afterwards. Terrified shouts of a mother, my cousin, as she burst into the room. The relief in her eyes on seeing her little girls unharmed. The way she carried both of them out alone like a supermom. I remembered all that and more. The countless aftershocks that continued for months. The distraught faces on TV. The debris of the most monumental buildings in the city.
Sitting up on my bed five years later, I placed my sweaty palm flat on the cool wall next to my bed. I waited for the shakes to stop but it was hard to tell since my hands were trembling even more than the earth.
According to a quick Google search, earthquakes generally last less than half a minute. In those seconds, if you had told me this fact, I would have refused to believe you. Crises always seem worse than they are.
I knew the excruciating seconds were over when my parents rushed into my room.
As the lockdown continued, many forgot how the walls that surrounded them 24/7 were trembling with uncertainty only a few days earlier. Maybe it was a good thing that they did; we couldn’t go on living in fear of the unknown, whether the unknown was a nation-wide disaster or an infectious virus.