Being Nepali, and away from home is the most painful position at present. Helplessly, we are witnessing the death of our people; the ruins of those fallen monuments; and the trauma of our family. We feel powerless, nervous, besieged and dejected. For most of us, as much as we want to be in Nepal, it is not easy to do so.
We have made peace with ourselves that we cannot be in Nepal right now; yet, it is very difficult to remain sane when we imagine the ordeal that our loved ones are going through right now. My Buwa (dad) is no more the same young and energetic man that he once used to be. In our last big earthquake in 1989, he was posted in a village in eastern Nepal – the place that was severely hit. As he was running for his life, he stumbled. He still had a presence of mind to get up and run. As he came out, the house collapsed, trapping people behind him. Today he is 65, and a diabetic patient. He would not be able to do the same. Mamu (mom) gets severe body pain and fatigue whenever she feels cold. Even in summer, she sleeps under a thick blanket. She just cannot handle the cold. Today, she is sleeping outside her house, dealing with cold wind and rain. It must be giving her body pain, exhaustion and severe headache right now. And our houses, what happened to them? We have seen pictures of the severe cracks in newly built buildings on the Internet. My house is more than 25 years old. Has it managed to survive such a jolt? Does it have cracks? …and so on! There are many such questions and thoughts that are continuously haunting us right now. But there is nothing we can do for our loved ones except speaking to them (after multiple attempts to connect); reminding them to take care; and thinking and praying for our families’ well-being.
And of course, those images of the ruins of Dharahara Tower and other historic monuments hurt us the most. Dharahara is what the Statue of Liberty is for New York; Eiffel Tower for Paris; Opera House for Sydney; and London Bridge for London. Standing tall in the middle of the city, the tower once could be seen from every corner of the valley. It is tough to imagine Kathmandu without the Tower, and we feel a sense of huge loss- as if we have lost a family member- when we see the picture of the fallen Tower.
Seeing the pictures of those fallen Durbars (palaces) breaks our heart. We have spent so many hours spending our evenings sitting on the stairs; enjoying Chana; feeding pigeons; and chatting with friends. Those historic monuments highlighted the unique character of the valley, and its citizens. Only last month, I visited each of those UNESCO sites along with Mamu. We took multiple pictures (photos below), posted on my Instagram and Facebook bragging about the beauty of the valley. I was in an unofficial mission to promote “Nepal tourism” and encouraging all my friends and colleagues to visit Kathmandu. Alas, all in ruins now. We will possibly build new buildings and towers, but the essence of Kathmandu is lost with these unique temples. We all feel a big part of our identity has been snatched away with the fall of those monuments. What will our next generation see; and what will they learn about our roots?
With all these emotions in our mind, we are thinking about Nepal, and realizing how important our country is for us. We are donating, praying and thinking of volunteering in whatever way we can; yet, not being able to be in the country when our motherland is struggling to come to terms with the death and devastation left by the earthquake has left most of us guilty, devastated, heartbroken, helpless and in severe pain.
I hope we, the people of Nepal, can come together as one, and get through this ordeal. And we promise, our beloved Nepal, we will be back soon to serve you.