I was desperate and tired. My eyes strained themselves to keep focused on the computer screen. My eyes were heavy and my head hurt like hell. I was in a desperate need for an aspirin. After long hours of searching for some historical events on four dates given by my teacher, I was unable to find anything suitable. I had to write an essay on one of the four dates and only thing I found out was the Al Hoceima, Morocco Earthquake that took place on 26th May, 1994. Writing about something which I have never had any experience of is nearly impossible. This earthquake, the information on which I had been searching for the past two hours had a mild impact on the human life but a devastating one on the Earth’s crust. Two people had died and three hundred were injured but the Earth’s crust had shifted on its axis by a few centimeters. Even though it lasted for mere seconds, its aftershocks were observed for many hours. I viewed many photographs picturing the landslides in the Rif Mountains, the wrecked buildings and architectural structures, the rubble on the streets, fallen poles, traffic lights and the incomprehensible street signs, written in Arabic. It was a gruesome sight. Tight knots formed in my stomach. I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up from the chair and…
Suddenly the ground started to shake. I saw the water in my glass spill on the ground and the crash of broken glass made me hunch in fear. Lights went out. I tried to make my way out but couldn’t amidst the fallen objects and darkness. I stretched my hands out and slowly started to feel my way around. Another shock came; I lost my balance and fell on my computer table. It struck me right on my waist. I felt a surge of pain throughout my body. I cried out. A few more shocks came and this time they were violent. Violent to the extent that, my room came tearing down. With quick reflexes I jumped beneath the oak table.
I was awake and alive. With wobbly legs and faltering steps I made it out of my room. I searched for my parents but instead found people running wildly. Women dressed all over in black and men in white with their children wrapped in their arms were exclaiming “tishreel”. “What?” I asked one of them. He looked at me in confusion, with eyes of full of terror he shouted “tishreel” and ran away. What in the world was happening? Minutes ago I was surfing the net and now I was surfing this god forsaken place. I couldn’t make out what the peculiar curls and swirls on the boards read. I couldn’t make out the alien language being shouted in my ears. Above all, I couldn’t make out where in the world I was.
Everything was scattered haphazardly on the roads. I was scared. Scared of what was happening and what might happen. I was alone. I longed for everything to be back to normal. I wanted to be back at home with mom and dad. I finally came outside darting around the debris. Dirt and dust filled my nostrils. I bent down low but the air was so thick, it made me cough. My vision got blurry and water streamed down my eyes. I heard a faint voice “Moosaiga” “Moosaiga”. Concentrating on the voice, I followed it and saw a little kid struggling to get out of the fallen stones. “Moosaiga”, he looked at me with helpless eyes. I watched him straining himself to get out of the wreckage. I pushed the pillar, with as much force as I could muster. I tried to pull the kid out, but all my attempts were vain. I cried “Help! There’s a kid stuck here. Help!” No one paid any heed to my plea. Everyone was so engrossed in escaping that they didn’t see the kid under the pillar. I got up to find some help. I looked around but could see nobody in the thick haze. I bent down and again started pulling the kid but to my horror, I noticed that the kid was not even trying anymore. However, I pulled harder. The kid had given up and so did I. I saw him die right in front of my eyes. My heart sank and tears came in my eyes. I had just witnessed a death of an innocent child. I sat there with my face in my hands. The world had stopped for me. Not a thing moved. After all this violence, I tried to get some peace but my heart kept pounding inside my chest. The silence around me was broken by the sound of a siren. An ambulance was finally here.
“Madam, Madam”, they called out but I couldn’t move. I was fixed at the place and couldn’t get my eyes to move from the kid. “Madam, Madam, please” I looked up and saw my maid. “Good morning, your morning coffee is ready.” I looked at her, bewildered. An earthquake had just taken place and she was worried about my morning coffee! I got up and my hands touched something hard, my computer table! I rubbed my eye and saw the ceiling of my room still there strong and sturdy. The glass was half filed with water, and the computer was beeping loudly as it had run out of battery. The maid kept the coffee on the table and went out of the room. I tried to get a sense of what all had just happened. Then the thought hit me. The events that took place during the Al Hoceima Earthquake had just now been unfolded right in front of my eyes. A chill ran through my spine as my mind flashbacked to the kid. I stood there trembling. Finally after moment’s peace I gave a sigh of relief and drank my coffee. I felt glad. After all, I finally had my report. And this time it would not just be about the magnitude of the earthquake and the causalities but also about the emotions and fear that were felt by those who witnessed the catastrophe. Never before was 26th May, 1994 important in my life. It was insignificant, but now it is imprinted in my memory for eternity. I have witnessed the day when lives were lost and injured and the Earth changed forever.
Fried Eye note : Rupasi Gupta is a tenth standard student of Bal Bharti Public School in Delhi and Fried Eye thanks her for this wonderful article. Rupasi we will love it if you continue writing in future too. Our best wishes for your future .
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