26, January 2001 [Republic Day]
Place: Baroda, Gujarat
As usual I was struggling to write an essay in Gujarati. I despised attending tuition classes on holidays but I was left with no choice. My low marks in gujarati brought me here every morning at 8. This day was no different than the other days till…. …
......……..Till I felt someone pushing my chair back and forth. I instantly turned around.
No one was there.
I calmed my thoughts and told myself that I must have imagined that. But the look on my teacher’s face who was sitting opposite to me made me realise that it was no imagination. I saw her looking behind her chair with uncertainty. Before I could tell her what I felt, we heard a loud thump from the kitchen. We both hurried off to the kitchen to find the kitchen shelves shaking heavily and vessels flying down one by one. We looked around the house with an insecure mind clueless to what is happening around us.
I had seen a horror movie about evil spirits on the television three days prior to this incident. I kept having flashbacks of the different scenes in the movie. I thought that the evil spirit which I saw on t.v is now here in this house and it is going to take our lives in a flash. We both came back to the living room and what we saw here was even more creepy. The tubelights were flickering.The wall hangings lay on the floor and table drawers were opening and closing on its own. The only thing an eleven year old could comprehend at that time was that everything in the house had a life of its own.
We both screamed as loud as we can. Just then, I heard a man (I assume he was the neighbour) screaming “Bhookamp aayaa!” BHAAAGOO!! [ It means “ It’s an earthquake. RUNNN!]. It was that moment when I realised that there was no ghost around but the house in which we are standing will fall down any second from now.
The fear of death was pulsating through every vein in my body .This seismic wave amplified my desperate need to survive. In those trembling moments I realised that my existence was a gift from god and it can be seized away in a jiffy. I was naively whispering frantic prayers to god while sprinting out the door.
As both of us hurried out the house we saw people walking as fast as they could to an open ground nearby. We followed them. Everyone had only one thing in their mind and it was to somehow survive this wobble of the terrain.
In about fifteen minutes the crowd gathered at the playground started chitchatting. I was also calmed down by now . Each of them started telling their stories. Gladly no houses fell down and no one was injured here. I was a bit worried as my mind started popping questions like “ is my family okay?” and " did our house breakdown?
.When I returned home I was happy to find my family safe and sound. As they told their version of the story I switched on the television to see if the world around us is still intact. It was found that this earthquake had terrible affect in many areas of Gujarat but the main area of focus was Bhuj.It killed nearly 20 thousand people destroying their houses and leaving them bare.
The news said that the earthquake lasted for only 2 minutes. Those two minutes felt like eternity
. One thing I know for sure was………
......someone was watching over us that day.