Thursday, October 8, 2015

The heartwrenching tale of a woman who lost her everything in 2005 Earthquake

8th of October 2005 reminds me of the day a decade ago when most parts of the northern Pakistan were jolted by a massive earthquake that ate up many towns and villages besides leaving over 100,000 thousand dead and many more injured, crippled and homeless.

I was on leave that day and was asleep on that fateful day morning when the terrible jolt almost threw me off the bed. For quite sometime, the news channels did not report any major damage except the crumbling down of Margalla Towers in Islamabad. We took a sigh of relief as if that was it. But then the lamenting tales started cropping up of devastations - unparalleled in the history of Pakistan.

Soon I received a call from my office that my leave was cancelled and was to report at my office. By virtue of my post, a medium sized military hospital was under me and by the time I reached there, already dozens of crippled survivors were in through helicopters. Every injured had a tale of his own, describing the wide spread damage the quake had caused.

Out of the many who survived carry scars on their souls, perhaps for the rest of their lives. And one of these was Yasmeen - a young married woman with two dolls like daughters and a loving husband - till the earthquake struck her village, home and her life.

She came to work in our house many years after the quake and was lost person. She would forget things and sometimes she would just keep sitting staring somewhere that only she knew. And one day she narrated her story to my wife.

She was happily married with two cute doll like daughters aged 5 and 4 and lived in a small mud house somewhere near Balakot. On that fateful day, when her husband had went out for work, she cooked chapattis for her daughters and asked them to come and eat. But the elder one refused as she wanted “paratha (chapatti greased with ghee or oil” – seeing her elder sister, the smaller doll also refused to eat plain chapatti and insisted on having paratha as well. The poor mother, who couldn’t afford the luxury, politely refused - a decision she was to regret for the rest of her life. 

Her daughters refused to eat anything else and went inside the house protesting. And it was 8:55 AM - the time the earthquake struck. Yasmeen's mud house was too fragile to resist the shocks and collapsed on her two young siblings. The heartbroken mother ran to the rubble and tried to dig out her daughters – but they were to be no more. They were there lying sound asleep – no more wanting to eat parathas. Yasmeen cried in pain, but her daughters could not awake.

But her tragedy was not over as yet. After the tragic death of her daughters and her guilt of refusing them their favourite breakfast, Yasmeen lost her balance and was a lost person. Her once loving husband tried to console her for a while but then made the worst choice a man could ever make in such circumstances. He divorced Yasmeen and married again - leaving his already shattered wife for ever.

She continues to live but her grief stricken life is too painful to be witnessed. This is but one of many such tragedies that have made people lost and shattered for ever. While today just observe the day with sorrow, can someone really do something to heal the wounds of many such people like Yasmeen - who continue to live carrying scars on their souls forever. 

The main theme of this story was published by me sometimes ago here at Jaho Jalal under the title: The Lamenting Scars of Soul
[Photo courtesy: All things Pakistan

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