We will bend, but we will not break
Puja stares out of the sixth-floor window of Bir Hospital. When the Dharara collapsed on 25 April, she was below the tower while her husband survived while holding on to the railing of the balcony. Her mother and sister were not so lucky, they were crushed as the 100m high structure came down.
Puja is 24 and had worked as a volunteer in several charities for two years, but she stopped after the earthquake. “You only know what it is like to lose someone after you have lost them yourself,” she says.” Her husband, who was lucky to only suffer a broken leg, is asleep next to her.
“When bad things happen, you somehow gain the ability to deal with things,” Puja reasons calmly. “We have to continue living and stay strong for the new life that is waiting to come to the world.” She is eight months pregnant and has not decided what to name her baby.
Nischal is playing with his toy gun with a big smile on his face as he learned the names of sea creatures. Today he learned to say ‘whale machha’.
In the next bed is 72-year-old Dhanmaya, who is sitting up with her left arm in a sling. She was selling khuwa by the roadside in Bhotahiti when the earthquake struck. As she tried to run, she fell to her side and was hit by a wooden pillar, but she stayed conscious. She saw everything that happened afterward.
“I saw this man fly across the air right in front of my eyes,” she recalls, “everyone was screaming and running, and some people even stepped on me while I was down on the ground.”
Nischal, 4, recovers in Bir Hospital after suffering a broken leg during
the earthquake. He was suffering nightmares about more earthquakes,
but not anymore. Photo- Anjana Rajbhandary
She considers herself to be extremely lucky because none of her five children were hurt. Her three sons and two daughters take turns to stay with her at the hospital.
“I want to read books, but it’s hard with my broken arm. But I remember my left arm was dangling like a rope by my waist when I stood up,” says Dhanmaya.
Dhanmaya hopes to be back on the sidewalk with her little shop, she knows that she needs to recover first but that it will pass like all difficult times do.
Also in the ward is Pasang. She is touching the cut on her face while standing next to a hospital bed. The cut isn’t from the earthquake, but from walking into a wall in the hospital. She is accompanying her four-year-old grandson, Nischal, who fell down and broke his leg during the earthquake in their home in Sindhuli.
Pasang said she lost half her house in the earthquake, but her son has started to rebuild it with the help of some friends who are able to help out. She hopes this time the house will be more beautiful and much stronger.
“Sometimes bad things happen, and right now, times are hard, but this is temporary, I know they will get better,” says Pasang with a smile.
Some of the names have been changed.
Originally published in Nepali Times Newspaper on May 18, 2015.