Life is one tough teacher that brings you every lesson, it wants you to learn. In this process sand just keep shifting, and later all you had left is an imprint. Now reliving those moments across the sand of times, it can be treat or a living hell. Right now I can’t pick up the end of my feeling; everything around me is just blurry, motions are abrupt and jerky, fear in the air is so thick and death; its collecting the souls around me.
I felt like I might throw up, for the van I was travelling in rocked, so did the ground. I closed my eyes and try to avoid looking outside. The tremors had moved the plates under the surface, shaken the mountains, caused sliding of heavy rocks at a few corners of the Chattar Plane road, leading to District Battagram. The road was damaged but still it was good for us to keep going. We may have had a chance to reach there. I opened my eyes and risked a glance outside. The village across the river that I grew up watching every year I passed this road, was just gone, all I could make out was the outline of a few roofs, a broken wall sometimes. I had barely recognized the mosque from its one standing wall and half a portion of its “Mehrab”. I just diverted my attention to the other side of the road and in front of me along the roadside, was bodies; the walls of the houses were broken or cracked and the dwellers were sitting along the roadside with their dead and wounded, purse-lipped or weeping or just shaken. The after-shocks rocked the earth eventually and panic struck many times, and finally we reached Battagram city.
Headquarter Hospital of the District is at the main entrance and it was packed with wounded and unconscious, missing one body part or the other. Adjacent was the Army Camp where the rescue tried to help us get to my Aunt, who lived in Valley of Alley, but all the communication was shut. And we had no idea of her whereabouts. So we just came back from the city, for some piece of road was missing. No travellers were allowed to pass the area. All the way back to Mansehra, we travelled and saw the same destruction and panic all over again.
Only two hours before I was at my school. It was a beautiful day and our attendance was about to be called. And then earthquake hit, shook the school building. Panic stricken, the students ran outside and a few were left when an after-shock came, dropping a few bricks from roof where construction was still in progress. Everybody ran for home asa the news came that a whole city, Balakot, had been shaken to the ground and adjacent cities were heavily damaged. That was October 8, 2005 when Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and the belt was being hit by a moment magnitude of 7.6 centered at Pak-Belt, where death toll was estimated nearly 75,000.
In panic we left for Battagram and witnessed what I stated. We had been able to get in touch with my Aunt after a week or so and brought her home. She survived. But mothers lost kids, fathers buried sons and daughters, and even some lost the whole families, worse than that, all of them were just; gone. But we remember them. The nation grieved and helped and did the best to rehabilitate.
I remember the fear, I remember the pain. I remember the tears, and I certainly remember the feel. But above all I remember the love, sympathy, and the nation’s unity in hard times. Many of us suffered but they survived. Still every year a tide of grief comes and passes by. But life just goes on. It just does what has to be done, she just teaches and teaches; otherwise how come we gonna survive.
( Response to a writing challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/writing-challenge-remember/ )