Sunday, October 08, 2006

October 8, 2005 - A day that changed everything

Imagine yourself sleeping comfortably on your bed. Suddenly, you feel violent shaking that wakes you up. You sit up and try to figure out what's going on. Windows start rattling in high pitch while wall-hangings, things on your fireplace and study desk start falling off. Scared like hell, you put your feet on the ground just to feel it pounding like if you stepped on a strong water current.

You know something dangerously deadly is going on. At last, gains of full consciousness triggers you to run for shelter under the nearest door panel. As the realization comes, fear overcomes your whole body and mind while you experience a violent, ground shaking earthquake.

It's 8:55 in the morning and five minutes of fierce ground movements have made you feel like you are standing on board a ship in severe thunderstorm. The earth, that you always took as unharmful for granted is in wave motion under your feet as you feel violent thuds and whirlpool movements under each of your feet.

The noise and shaking mounts to an extent when you are feel sure that a railway engine is just going to rip the wall in front of you and turn your place into a rubble. Every single second dreads you with the fear that this structure, under what you are standing for shelter, may fall down of violent shaking with everything coming to an end.

The tremors stop at 9:00 am. But, your legs are still quivering due to the ripples; the waves of fear and immense worry that were transmitted all through your body, right from tips of toes to the brain. Moving away from the panel you start worrying about the after-effects; are your family safe? Did anyone get hurt? What about your relatives and loved ones living in the neighborhood, city and at other places? What about the 9-storey plaza under-construction nearby? What about someone who was driving on a sharp turn?

I was lucky to be in Lahore; more than 550 km away from epicenter of this tragedy, and I experienced the earth shook to horrifying extremes.

And if, either, you or I had been in Balakot, a small town of 25,000 inhabitants in Northern Pakistan, that morning, we would have lost nothing but half of our bustling tourist town's population of men, women and children, plus, each and every structure that ever stood to any height.

Today, Pakistan marked first anniversary of the worst natural disaster that ever struck its land and people. It was October 8, 2005 when a 7.6 magnitude earthquake occurred with epicenter just outside Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Administered Kashmir, killing thousands and reducing millions of homes, schools, hospitals and other structure to absolute rubble. The shocks were felt as far away as from Afghanistan in the east to Western Bangladesh.

More than 75,000 people perished, including 18,000 children that died in schools alone. 80% of all health facilities were totally destroyed while 3.5 million people were made homeless.

Time has passed. And although millions still live in temporary shelters and relief camps, people have started rebuilding their homes and lives. What happened can never be forgotten, for the trauma, the pain is too intense to be forgotten in decades for millions of men, women and children that saw their parents and families being crushed and dying of sheer pain under the rubble of this tragedy.

There was not a single person that was left un-affected by this tragedy.

For me, myself; I forgot to stand firmly on ground. Fearing that this earth, that we stand on for support, stability and steadiness, will betray, I, alongside, millions of others, can never trust it again!!

We pray for all those who were affected directly or indirectly. May God give us all the strength to overcome fear of tragedy and agony of pain that we share with our brothers and sisters who lost everything but faith; faith in God's existence and His command over nature's every power. Amen!!


Rose said...

That was so sad and such a major event that will never ever be forgotten. My prayers are with you, your family and the entire country.

Belizegial said...

I join with Rose and yourself in prayer that such an event will not happen again and that everyone affected will recover with sufficiency. Amen

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