Today we woke up to our room shaking again.Another troubling reminder of the uncertainities,the fear,the ‘being alert’,the ‘trying to feel normal’.Just yesterday night when I mentioned to hubby that I would be posting about our experience of the earthquake soon, he was silent for quite sometime and then uttered….’a silent jolt’. On nudging further,he related the pun therein…the silent happy normal life before the quake and then thereafter nothing remained normal….not even the silence.
So here’s the trembling details of the day that was.The day that continues to breathe in our shaken hearts and alert minds.
It was a lovely day.After meeting hubby at lunchtime,on my way back,I saw two beautiful birds and took a snap.Ambling further,I did some veg and food shopping and then queued in at the bus stop for the shuttle bus home.It was a busy afternoon as always at Shinagawa station,with people all over.I looked at my watch, 7 mins more for the bus.And right then 3 things happened all at a time…my hubby’s call, the thumping ground beneath me and a frantic nod from a woman in the same queue -all saying it loud and clear…It’s Happening !!
Hubby asked me to be careful and we hung up as the thumping gave way to shaking and then both together !! With small random shouts and screams, people moved away from the adjoining building which was now shaking violently.All took shelter under the bus stop shed.And it was still shaking,sideways,upwards…every way.People started covering their heads and so did I with my purse, just whence my phone slipped out and fell to the ground dislodging the battery.And bending down to lift the pieces while I wasn’t able to stand even, was a real feat in that fleeting moment.Somehow I managed to fix it but then no more signal.I wasn’t able to call hubby. By now it was high time we all expected it to stop but it grew stronger.At one instant,I thought it’s one of the many regular earthquakes that keep happening here every other day,but it wasn’t long before the frightened faces of the people around screamed at me ‘it’s way beyond normal’.People rushed out to the middle of the road,holding onto the divider.I,with a few more people stood at our place holding onto a railing.All the cars had stopped where they were.All the people were glued to their spots.We all were at the mercy of nature,between the trembling earth and the endless sky.Then gradually it subsided to a point where we could stand up straight and keep some balance.I tried calling hubby but no connection.A middle-aged woman rushed in from other side of the road,and as our eyes met,she heaved a breath of relief.
In all that chaos,the bus coming in settled us a while.All trickled inside without a word.It was all a pin drop silence but one could hear the same ceaseless chatter on everyone’s mind.And the bus was moving so so slowly like the earth might crumble beneath it anytime.Finally we reached the stop and found many people gathered out on the road.
Making my way through them,carrying heavy food-loads(which helped later),I finally reached my apartment,only to find out the lift was not working.Though expected but it had skipped my rattling mind altogether.And now I had to reach the 9th floor with about 4 kgs of weight excluding mine!Still unaware of the magnitude of the disaster,I decided I would rather wait.But then the maintenance guy dropped in and opened the emergency staircase for me.And so I started pulling myself up the steep steps.I was out of my breath and almost choking by the time I reached my room.Rushing inside,it all started to sink in when I saw the things scattered all over the floor in every room.To top it all the continuing strong aftershocks were enough to catch up on me.I was beginning to panic.I hadn’t heard from hubby since then and the only thing on my mind was to reach him.So I hurriedly logged into my Gmail and it was when I got a ping from him assuring his well-being,that tears rolled down my face and I broke down.
The shaking was still going strong.After having a few lines chat with hubby and knowing that we could reach other online, I somehow gathered myself up and thought of capturing this fateful moment in my phone through these shots…
After that I washed my face, calmed myself, drank water, sat down with my lappy,and switched on the TV.And it was then that it all got so overwhelming.It was all so beyond the worst nightmare,it was the most gruesome reality..the unleashed wrath of nature.I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.My mouth agape,tears trickled down…as I saw the horror unfold..those houses washed away…those homes swept away into the endless..cities turning into sea…and people so damn helpless.It still angers me…wrenches me to even think of it.It was on every news channel…and I wondered if our parents back home were aware of it by now. Just last Wednesday when a pre-mega quake of 7.2 had struck, they were all unaware of it till I called to assure them we are fine and not to worry.But today,I wasn’t so sure.Finally at around 3 pm I called home.Mom lifted before the ring was complete and her frantic voice told me they knew already.She was crying helplessly.My sis,the ‘birthday girl’,took the phone from her and said that they had just tuned in to the news and were shocked beyond expression.They were all feeling so clueless and helpless not knowing how to reach us.I assured them,holding back my tears and asked them to come online.Then I hung up and called up Amma Daddy.They had also just received the news and were relieved on hearing from me.I assured them to keep them posted and next I called Papa.He was in his office and thus unaware of all proceedings.When I informed him, he absorbed it gradually and asked me to keep calm and started for home immediately.A concern for them all and for me too was that hubby was still in office.Though a 15 mins walk away but he hadn’t been able to start for home bcz of lifts not working and the continuing strong aftershocks.But atleast we were able to update each other online.Friends started pouring in online one by one..all with the same question..and the same concern.My sis-in law logged in and talking to her at stretch helped me calm down a bit.My mind was super alert now,as generally happens when faced with danger.All thru the next few hours it was only one thing that I did..updating myself of the gory developments from the news,and updating family and friends of our safety over here.My sister’s birthday is so very special to me,and that day when she came on video chat and I wished her,she almost broke down.Atleast the day before we had managed to arrange for some gifts online so maybe later in the evening she could smile a bit.I wanted her to be happy on her birthday.And her only birthday wish that day was we being safe.
Meanwhile,there was this announcement in hubby’s office that public transport would stop at 6.30pm so people should start for home at the earliest.But as his team went ahead with their scheduled meeting,he wasn’t able to leave.That was one thing different from India,wherein at any emergency,people are first told to go back to their families and take care.But here as we found out that wasnt the case.Maybe that’s what would lead to faster recovery of this nation but at that point of time,all I wanted and cared for was my hubby to be by my side.
I looked out of my window to find the roads jammed with cars and people.But still,all was in perfect order.That’s a quality hard to find anywhere else.The way the people here maintain their calm and order even in such threatening situations.Maybe because they have already faced a lot as a nation.
Hubby finally reached home at around 7.30pm..almost 5 hrs after the quake.And we hugged for life.We then made calls back home again so that all could be assured talking to him.Then we tried tracing some of our friends here over VOIP calls.Later,as evening melted away into the dark night..we felt a bit hungry…for the first time that day.As I prepared for dinner and put the cooker on the stove and switched the knob on…I realised no gas ! Then we tried making some noodles in the microwave and that was our dinner for that night.Family and friends kept up with us …keeping us company…
It was around 2.00 am by then.But when the roof above our heads and the ground beneath us is trembling…how can one sleep!When the foundation is shivering…when life itself is shaken….
Atleast we have a roof and some ground to support us but many thousands of those out there have lost it all…their dreams,their families,their friends,their homes..But thankfully,as it has turned out to be…they have bravely managed to hold onto their faith,their hopes…and are slowly rising up to life again…
I salute these people of Japan and all of us here in Japan..for standing up to this difficult times as ONE…I salute each person here for his/her own courage,calmness,integrity and faith.And now, through these 115 days,we have seen people reach out to help,support and stand together..beyond boundaries,beyond countries and beyond nationalities.And that in itself, I believe, is paving the way to a better future for the mankind….for this world as one.
P.S. I am happy to share here some related posts of my blogger friend Cocomino citing his experience of this devastating earthquake.He and his family have seen it closer and I believe, have faced it stronger.God Bless.