Yesterday, Knows-a-thing-or-two-Wendy suggested a walk in the bush. As often happens when Knows-a-thing-or-two-Wendy makes a suggestion, there was resistance. To-Do-Wendy pointed out all the other things that were more pressing. Couldn’t-be-bothered Wendy…couldn’t be bothered. Earthquake-survivor-Wendy (she’s a new one) had concerns about the possibility of the earth moving out there without anyone knowing where she was. But Knows-a-thing-or-two Wendy played her trump card. There is something out there just for you she said.
It’s been a month since I was in Nepal running out of buildings. I ran from the Samunnat building at least 6 times over 3 days and lost count of how many times we ran from Kopila’s house. We slept on the ground. I slept in hearing aids!
The overwhelming sense for me was there is absolutely NOTHING I can do. Yes, I could run from the building (and I do know there’s some debate about the wisdom of this but I wasn’t going to risk being crushed) but even that didn’t guarantee I would not be knocked out by debris or swallowed up by cracks that we feared would appear in our safe haven paddy. We could do nothing except try to balance, hold one another and wait for the earth to stop pitching. And we did this several times.
The first earthquake was unexpected. With all the aftershocks there was fear plus the effects of lack of sleep and sustained hyper vigilance. We had a cup of water on the table, watching for any signs that we needed to down tools and run. Some watched the endlessly repeated images of collapsing buildings or grieving families. Others circulated the rumours, the horrible, horrible rumours of the next massive quake…it will be at 7.00, or be centred at Ilam or will measure over 9 on the Richter scale.
There’s nothing like a good rumour to add to the tension.
I became the sour faced Yes, there may well be another one but we don’t know when girl. Like that helped.
I feel fragile. Arriving home before the second spate of earthquakes I felt guilty. Events are BE* or AE*. I note the time elapsed since the earthquake. Friends report that I startle easily and I flinch at rumbling trucks or certain musical beats. I don’t sleep well and it still occurs to me that an earthquake might happen while I’m in the shower. I reflected on all this as I walked in the ancient, scrubby country I’ve grown to love. Every now and then I’d wander up a rough roo track searching for the something I knew I’d find. Eventually, the sun broke through glowering clouds and I sat on a rock and thought I’m going to cry. But I didn’t.
Instead, I did find something…a sense of peace about how I am now. I know it is not normal normal. But two well-timed emails from others who’d had a similar experience (one far worse!) helped me to see that it is normal considering what’s happened. I know things will improve. They already are. I slept better last night. Maybe soon I’ll get back to emails…..
*Before the Earthquake/ After the Earthquake