Earthquake

This part of the story begins when I opened my eyes, the morning of the earthquake.

Note : This is an unedited excerpt from one of the chapters from my upcoming book.

EXCERPT

Waking groggily the next morning, I could hear my Dad and Mom’s voice, also the musical sound of Shalin’s younger voice in the background. Turning over on the mattress that had been laid on the floor for me I thought, it must be close to 8:00 AM, as I could see the bright sunlight from the bedroom window. It seemed like someone had already opened the bedroom curtains. I wanted just a few more minutes of sleep.


INDIA ABROAD “ January 27, 2017

From out in the kitchen I could hear Roshan’s voice. “Mom, Shalin was playing till 1:00 AM with Viral. It was fun watching them play.”

My mother must have said something about little boys needing to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I heard Roshan chuckle. But Shalin was not ready to go to bed!”

I pulled the covers up over my eyes to keep out the morning light. Everyone seemed to be having breakfast or morning tea out in the adjoining dining room. I could hear my mom laughing and talking to Shalin in a baby’s tone. I knew that any moment my dad would come and wake me up.

Not even a minute had passed, and there he was.

Viral, get up!” he ordered.

I pretended to be wide awake.

“Give me just another 10 minutes Dad, I was up late last night.”

“Get on the bed if you want to sleep then. I need to put your mattress back in the other room and clear this one” he said.

Trying to keep my eyes open, I shifted to the bed and curled like a caterpillar underneath the thin blanket. Seeing this, my Dad picked up another thick comforter and threw it over me, covering me from my head to the toe. I was quite surprised. I had not seen such a gesture from him when I was younger.

Uncovering my face, I could see my father’s tall figure move to the window where he pulled the curtains closed for my comfort. I felt pampered. Then, snuggling under the blanket I checked the time on my watch. It was 8:35 AM. We would be leaving for the resort by 9:45, I guessed.

I can sleep till after 9 then, I thought, and closed my eyes.

A sound like thunder woke me, as I opened my eyes inside the comforter. It was surprisingly very loud and seemed to be coming from a far distance. I’d never heard thunder this loud before, and there was something different about this sound but I couldn’t tell what.

In a moment I realized that the sound wasn’t stopping, but only getting louder and louder. In my groggy state I thought lightning had struck somewhere nearby.

Pulling my head out from under the comforter I looked towards the window covered with curtains. It seemed as if it had gotten cloudy outside, making the room darker, while the very loud rumbling noise from outside continued to build.

Maybe it’s not thunder. Someone upstairs is moving heavy equipment.

But I realized that was not right either, and the sound became a roar.

Bombs? What if Pakistan has attacked India? Bhuj was not far from the border, and it was 26th January, the Republic Day of India.

Before I could take the next breath, the floor began to shake, the bed shook and rattled up and down, and the dresser and mirror rattled against the wall.

Earthquake!

The shaking grew more fierce, the intensity mounting by the second, and the roar became even louder.

My bed, along with everything else in the room shook wildly, nearly tossing me out and to the floor. A large and heavy metal cupboard wobbled and tilted and scraped its way across the floor.

RUN TO SAFETY. GET EVERYONE OUT…..

Before I could complete that thought, everything started to become airborne. I, My bed, the metal cupboard, the dresser – all of it was slamming against the floor and being thrown back up in the air in a wild and jarring motion. From all around I could hear glass shattering, and the sound of kitchen utensils clattering to the floor.

Now the deafening and ever-growing rumble seemed to be coming from right underneath our building, and the shaking became even more violent.

The ceiling fan right above me looked like a pendulum, swinging crazily in all the directions, its blades scratching the ceiling. The ferocious roar was like the sound of a monster coming out of the earth’s crust, and a series of enormous explosions were going off underneath the ground.

Kicking off the comforter I tried to get out of the wildly heaving bed. But I couldn’t. I was being tossed like a rag doll.

Suddenly, plastered cement and concrete pieces started falling off the ceiling. I had to get outside the building!

Now the walls started to give way. A six-inch wide crack split the floor. Big pieces of plaster were falling and dust clouds rose.

Unable to move, I had never seen anything more dreadful and terrifying in my life. And I knew ceiling could fall any second.

Another powerful jolt shook my room and I looked up again – unable to believe what I was seeing. Steel rods inside the ceiling were exposed, twisting and pulling out from the walls, and the whole, huge concrete slab of the floor above me – bigger than a car and weighing tons – cracked before my eyes and started to collapse.

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More Excerpts of my upcoming book : here

If you have inputs or comments that you would like to share, please do so in the comments section below.

16 comments

  1. Hey Viral
    I remember when you told me this story about 10 years ago. It touched me deeply and changed my life. Whenever I feel life’s low moments I remember the details of your story and suddenly I’m grateful again for what I have. I remember that lunch time talk… and how strong and hopeful and positive you were. Thank you for sharing and inspiring !

    • Yes I remember that day, Lisa.
      I have shared some of my thoughts in the book, and I have tried to share things that I learned over time. It is Great to hear from you, as always!

  2. Hi Viral,

    I was in Ahmedabad at the time but what we experienced was nothing compared to this. Just reading this excerpt after more than a decade makes my heart sink. Cannot imagine how you must have felt and coped. You are really brave and an inspiration to all of us. Like the Hardik said, this makes us wonder if our petty drama’s in life are worth spending time on.

    I will definitely be reading your book to learn more about how to live and love life.

    Love and prayers.
    S.

  3. Very nicely written
    Looking forward for your book

  4. Dear Viral,
    The sufferings for the remaining period under the debris are unimaginable.
    However by the grace of God you are with us. May Thou give you a healthy and happy life.

  5. Very well written, look forward to reading more!

    Feel proud and amazed that the post 5 day trauma and rescue, your first words “I don’t need to go to Hospital, just give me some water and I need to look for my family!”.

    Until I heard and knew more about you, I always felt that my problems were the biggest and struggled to cope with them. It is now that I can comfortably take a step back and think sensibly knowing “everything will be fine!”.

    Take Care.

    • Thank you for your kind comments Hardik.
      One of the chapters in my book is about mind, and about what it is capable of. If it goes out of control, things do too.
      And yes, “everything will be fine”

  6. Interesting, well written excerpts. Eagerly waiting to hear more about your traumatic experience and how you rose above it! Good luck man!

  7. Hey Viral, I can’t even imagine what you would have gone through and have no idea how I would have reacted. I still remember it like yesterday when I got the call at the international services office. Your excerpt is taking me along with you to that day and it still is scary and saddening but at the same time a miraculous event, and most of all admire your courage, determination and your strength through all this. Love you man.

  8. You have gone through a lot. I am proud of your inner strength.

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