It was 11:56 a.m. on the 25th of April, 2015, and I was going through the largest earthquake to ever hit Nepal. We were hours from home at a small housing complex for the people who worked at the Khimti hydropower plant.
There was a loud roar, and everything shook. Families running out of their homes, crying and scared, huddling together in hope that it would all be over. Millions of thoughts were shooting through my head. Pure terror was all I could feel. My brother looked in worse shape than me, so I crawled over to him. People tried to stand and run, but fell down instantly. As soon as it began, it was over.
Immediately, my dad pulled out his satellite phone and started making calls. All I could hear was his voice and the frantic locals speaking Nepalese. There were children and adults crying, all worried that they had lost friends or relatives in the mountains. No words could describe my fear. Deep down inside of me, I thought we would be okay. I thought that we would survive. My dad extinguished that hope when he broke the news that several landslides had blocked the way home.
The thought of going inside petrified me. I had heard of earthquakes. Large ones are always followed by several aftershocks. They were short, only about three seconds in length, but once they were over you could still feel their echo, telling you that it was not over yet. The paranoia that hit me was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I couldn’t go inside. I couldn’t eat. Even though I tried, my body just spat it out. My parents had to force me inside. It would be okay, they said. We would be alright. And for a brief moment, I believed them.
The next day did not feel like the next day, but a completely different year. I was more relaxed after the sleepless night. More accustomed to the constant aftershocks. Many had slept outside with nothing over their heads but the stars. After eating a minute amount of egg, I went outside and laid down in the grass. I just wanted it to end. I don’t know how much time passed, but at precisely 11:58 a.m. there was another earthquake, nearly as severe as the one before. At first, I just thought it was another aftershock, but when I saw 4x4 in the driveway bouncing around violently, I knew this was serious. My parents stumbled over with my brother, and everyone huddled together. Somehow, I felt safe in the arms of my parents, even though I knew that they wouldn’t be able to help if anything actually happened.
The next day came quickly, but when I woke up, my father was nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere for him, until I ran to my mom in tears. She then reassured me that nothing had happened, but he had gone for news of the status of the roads. That day, I went around as if nothing had happened, trying to ignore the pain I felt inside me. That hollow feeling that I always got when I got nervous.
Finally, my dad returned, bringing the good news that they were clearing the roads. I remember how happy I was, and I thought that we would get home. We would be safe. Then he broke the news that there were flash flood warnings and that we would have to move up to the safe zone. While we were preparing to leave, I saw a lot of people carrying something. I edged closer to see what it was, but then my mom grabbed me back. “Don’t go,” she explained, “I hear it’s a small child that has died. They are taking her to be cremated.” I felt a deep wave of sadness come over me. I felt incredibly sorry for the girl’s family, but also grateful that I had not come to the same fate.
When we got to the safe zone, I realised I wasn’t feeling well. My head was throbbing as if I had banged it on a wall. The ground trembled every now and then, but these things were now everyday life. I wasn’t as worried anymore. I knew we would be okay. My dad had said that the roads were being cleared and that we would be out by the next day. Slowly, I drifted off to sleep, and it was the most I slept since the Earthquake.
I woke up early the next day. My dad shook me like he had won the lottery.
“What!” I asked.
“Get up and get something to eat. Road’s have been cleared - we’re out of here!” he joyfully explained.
I ran outside and made my way over to the eating hall. After I gobbled down my breakfast, I sprinted over to the car. My mom and brother were already there, and my dad was right behind me. We set off, on a journey I would never forget. We saw homes completely destroyed, bricks and rubble all over. We saw a collapsed bridge, a landslides blocking numerous roads.
After six hours, we arrived in the capital of Kathmandu, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. The fields were all completely full of tents. They belonged to people whose homes had been destroyed or who were too traumatised to go inside. All I could feel was sorrow for the people, but it made me realise how lucky I was to be leaving in a weeks time. By then, the death tolls were confirmed to be past 5,000, only half of the final count. I couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t be able to see any of my friends again, they were all already out of the country or too busy to meet. From the plane, I saw destroyed cultural landmarks and so many places to which I had visited, and would never see again. However, all I really felt was thankful; thankful that I hadn’t lost anyone, that I would be okay, and that at the end of the day, what was done was done. The earthquake was over, and would not happen again for a very long time.