Mary Shrestha, a student from Nepal, writes about the earthquake in her home country. With the Nepalese community in Wageningen she is raising funds to help the victims of this disaster.
The past few days have been some of the worst days in my life with lots of nightmares – sitting in front of my laptop, listening to the news, scrolling through the Facebook posts of friends and praying for my family and friends. I now understand the pain of being away from parents and friends, while they are in a state of pain.
Saturday morning started as an usual weekend for me. I woke up a bit late. I could see the sun and was happy with the day. Then I switched on my laptop and saw a post of a friend saying that the historical monument ‘Dharahara’, which is no less than the Eiffel tower for us, had fallen down. I just took it as a prank and was cursing him from my heart. Then I took a shower and made coffee. After that I saw related posts and I quickly checked other online news.
When I went through the headlines, my body went cold…. A massive magnitude-7.8 earthquake had hit Nepal. Many people were dead in the capital Kathmandu. Literally, I was not able to move. I did not know what to think or how to react…. my mind was blank…. my hands were trembling. I could hear my heart beating fast, tears were rolling down my face, I was not able to control myself.
Then, something came to my mind… a thought about family members. Somebody inside me was telling me that something could have happened to them. Someone else inside me was telling me that they would be safe. I wanted to trust the ‘someone else’ rather than the ‘somebody’ and channelled my brain towards it. But my heart was still trying to revolt.
I tried to phone them. The phone was unreachable and the networks were down. Another flush of panic rushed inside me. Then I started to read the news and Facebook posts. I figured out that the epicentre was near Kathmandu – another thing to panic about because the majority of my family, friends and relatives are in Kathmandu. Historical landmarks and buildings near the Basantapur were rumbled, I read. This is near my maternal home, which means another sense of numbness came over my body. I was praying to God to keep them safe.
After about half an hour I tried to call them again and I was able to reach them. My heart was relieved. They told me that my maternal home has been damaged but all of them are safe. This made my heart and brain to coordinate and relax simultaneously. After every aftershock I was calling them and praying with them.
I also started to receive constant messages from friends and relatives which helped me to recover from this pain and I realised their importance in my life. That night the majority of the people in Kathmandu stayed in tents, afraid of facing major aftershocks. It was raining and cold with no electricity and nobody slept for the whole night. I also could not sleep for an entire night, thinking about them.
Due to these shocks, we have lost many lives: over 4300 people, and the numbers are increasing every hour. Also, lots of properties are lost, including historic and heritage sites. I remember many places like Durbar square and Dharahara where friends used to hang out and which used to be common meeting points. We used to take pride in visiting historic places, part of our glorious history that is no more now but which is still present in our memories. We feel a sense of deep cry for family, places and friends. But this is not a feeling for family only, but for all the places, people, property and losses. Looking at the devastating on Facebook conditions – pictures of fallen buildings and dead people, it feels as a helpless condition. After every aftershock, we are left with a feeling of agony. We do not know for how much longer this pain will be there.
However, there are good things to cherish. We are all united now. There is a lot of assistance from international and national communities, but we still need more. Because of the devastating earthquake young people and neighbours are helping each other without any judgement about race, caste, class or parties, all for the sake of humanity. They are the support system in times when we – family members – are abroad. Right after the disaster we do not call our family and friends much, so that they can focus on their safety and find support with their neighbours.
Electricity and networks are poor and it is proven now and again that Nepalese were and are well united and have good a social systems that makes them powerful so to be able to strive through this dark period.
We are all united with the support of Nepalese abroad, along with good wishes of our foreign friends. Therefore this foreign country is no longer foreign to us now. We are all praying and we are sure that we will again ‘bounce back’.
PS. The Nepal Student Society Wageningen (NSSW) has set up a Nepal Earthquake Relief Fundraising (NERF).We had a stall in Wageningen city centre on King's Day, where we collected some funds and we are collaborating with the university to organise a movie night and a lunch/dinner to raise more funds. Time and venue are yet to be fixed.