Healing the Self: An Experience of Post-Earthquake in Nepal

rabin-photoBy Meenakshi Dahal

When I reached the shelter after a week, Rabin (name changed), age 5, came running towards me asking why I was not there for about a week. I asked smiling, whether he missed me. He slowly replied, “yes, I was waiting for you every day. We had nothing to do.” And I asked why? He didn’t answer, just looked down at the floor. I just opened my bag as before and took out the colors and papers. He picked some of the colors and started sketching.
From the corner, a lady told me this boy is not good. And I asked what happened? She said he was stealing things from the shop. I looked at the boy’s face, he was working at his own pace, as if he didn’t listen to us.
“It was mid-day of Saturday, 25th April 2015. Things started to shake and it took a few minutes to comprehend that it was an earthquake. I was with my friends in the open ground. We didn’t understand what was happening. What could we do? We were starring each other’s face with fear. We started listening to people’s screaming and the sound of buildings and compound walls collapsing. At that point in time, we were all confused. People from the neighborhood started gathering out in open fields, everyone scared of remaining inside. We were scared not only for ourselves but also for the parents and other people around us.
People started offering each other food and temporary shelters were made. We had fear and uncertainty and our parents didn’t let us go outside. I was curious to see the devastation around us. The adults did not realize that going outside and playing with friends help us to calm down. They were more fearful, possibly even more as they have seen loss of lives of many people. My first few days in the camp were boring. Parents didn’t listen to us when we asked them for support. While parents were busy we went out from the shelter and roamed around. I liked to play with friends rather than sitting in one place.
When I started playing with friends then I felt less fearful. Earlier I couldn’t sleep at night and used to hold my mom’s hand while sleeping. And it was so scary when I closed my eyes, I just felt everything happening again. After playing with friends I started thinking about the games. Now I can sleep alone. But at the time of aftershocks I was even more scared. I am also involved in other activities going on in the shelters. The best one I felt is drawing. It encouraged us to write about the earthquake. We were given choices to write or draw whatever we wanted to.
When I didn’t get papers and pencils to write and draw we had nothing to do. So, one day me and my friend were just moving around, we saw cracked building. We went closer to it and peeped inside. It was stationery shop and we saw papers and pencils there. We took a packet of pencil and 2 sets of notebooks (copy) for writing. People thought that we were stealing goods, but we were only taking something to write on. We gave it back to the owner. And from that day I was waiting for you.”

Rabin’s drawings

A boy is running from the shaking tree. He told that he felt every one was running away so it was his feeling at the time of earthquake. (Rabin, boy, age 5, Nepal)

A village and a school his thought for the future, (Rabin, boy, age 5, Nepal)

A Temple,and people pulling ‘Rath’ (Chariot) at the time of ‘Jatra’ (festival), which had just happened few days before earthquake in Bhaktapur. He told me if Jatra was not finished, no earthquake could come (Jatra nasakeko vaye earthquake aaune tiyena). He was missing Jatra. (Rabin, boy, age 5, Nepal)

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