On Baisakh 12 (April 25th), I and my friend Ujjwol were at Manakamana Temple in the Gorkha District. Summer had begun and it was a very hot day. People were standing in line to pray to the goddess Manakamana. We could not stand the heat and the extremely long line of devotees ahead of us, so we worshipped from outside. Then we decided to wander around for a bit.
But then, the ground below us started shaking violently. The Manakamana Temple and some nearby houses looked like they would topple at any moment. The scared throng of people started running for their lives, away from the quaking temple and the houses. Some people toppled and then others fell over them. It was the first time I ever saw people getting trampled by a running mob. I felt awful for not being able to do anything to calm the crowd and stop the havoc.
After that, we took sanctuary in an open area which quickly filled with people. From a distance I could see clouds of dust in the air. It didn’t take me long to realize that the dust clouds were due to the collapse of an entire village, and I was afraid for anyone who could have been trapped in the debris.
After what felt like a treacherously long time, the ground stopped moving and everyone tried to process the event that had completely shaken us down to the core. People were worried about their homes and their loved ones. Since, the only means of communication was jammed, probably due to heavy traffic in the network, I was unable to contact anyone back home in Pokhara.
After an hour or so, the connections were re-established and news soon came of the magnitude of destruction. We learned that the nearby village of Barpak was the epicenter of the quake, and hence, many villages in the district were reduced to rubble. News also came from Kathmandu and we learned about the death toll, the destruction of properties and archaeological monuments including the city’s pride, Darahara Tower.
This disaster caused me to ponder the force with which nature had struck my country and its people. It made me realize that neither wealth or pride are a match for nature when it strikes a blow with its full force. This earthquake got even the strongest and the richest to fear nature and to run for their lives.
Later, with lingering fear in our hearts we headed to Pokhara. At home, I and my family watched the news of the destitution brought by the earthquake, and for the first time it made me cry for my country.