EARTHQUAKE – Running Children

April 25 2015

This is so difficult to write about. How can I accurately portray the crumbling building, the screaming children, the stampede of people, the terror, the deafening cracks of the earth, the grinding of the earth’s plates, the moments of absolute chaos as Nepali people search for family members.

I was collecting my shoes off the rack as people were making their way outside while I was speaking to Brenda, my substitute mum, about how cute the babies were and that I was contemplating stealing one. Kids running on the floor above then drowned out my voice; they must’ve been playing a game that required stomping. I looked up and the ceiling was moving.

Just as I looked back to eye level, hoping that the kids would stop running, the building starts unnaturally swaying and shaking. I look around for some indication of what was happening and I look directly into the eyes of a Nepali mother.

I will never be able to forget her eyes.

They say photos can spell out a 1000 words, but in that moment, her eyes told me one million different things. I saw her life flash before her eyes. The pains of her past, the joys she had experienced, the love for her children and then there was nothing but terror

An all-consuming terror.

In my life, I’ve seen enough fear. Overpowering fear where people are frozen on the spot but never; never have I seen true terror. A terror that sucks the life from you. That drains all emotions. That leaves you lifeless.

It was in that moment, those terror filled eyes that made me realize that it wasn’t children playing a game on the floor above me. It was the building shaking and stretching and twisting. It was the floor being warped. It was bits of the roof falling down on the second floor ceiling.

And then to knock me back into reality, I’m pushed out of the doorway and the stampede begins.

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Tahlia Van De Beld is currently working in Nepal with Metamorphic
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