Lest We Forget

 

Shyam K.C.

Exactly two years ago on the 25th of April 2015, the country faced one of its darkest days. On that fateful day an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 (some said 7.4) on the Richter scale struck the country with its epicenter at Barpak in Gorkha district. Before one had time to freely breathe a sigh of relief, the devastation caused by the quake was intensified by another powerful aftershock measuring over 7 on the Richter scale that occurred just over a fortnight later.

The vulnerability of this country to nature’s unpredictable occurrence is reflected in the fact that there have been over 480 aftershocks measuring 4 and above in Richter scale (according to National Seismological Centre) in the past two years. That works out to 6.6 magnitude shocks every 10 days in the past two years. But that apart, the 2015 earthquake devastated the country in that almost 9,000 people were killed and many more thousands injured. Millions were rendered homeless ands had to spend their days and nights in the open, and thousands had to be rushed to hospitals, medical centres and clinics to provide them with necessary medical care,

Time, they say, is the greatest healer and as time flies by we tend to forget the sufferings we all had to undergo in one form or the other. With the passage of time, the wounds left behind by the earthquake devastation will be forgotten. But we cannot forget such events, especially lessons from such events, at our own cost. For, Nepal being on the seismic zone, is bound to experience such events in the future, and if we forget the lessons, may not be we but our descendants are bound to suffer the consequences of our neglect to protect them which needs to be done now.  But can we of our present generation who cannot take care of our own welfare and wellbeing have the long-term perspective to care for the future generation?

Such questions are asked simply because of the delay that has taken place in different parts of the country in providing necessary relief and rehabilitation to the people who survived the quake but were displaced as their homes and hearths were leveled by the series of earthquakes that hit this country two years ago. Yet, two years after the natural calamity there are reports in different media that the government and concerned agencies have not been able to provide the oft promised help to the needy who want to lead a normal life with the rest of their countrymen. The help in the form of compensation and building materials were not said to be made available to those who suffered greatly because of the earthquake.

Apart from the people affected by the quake, many a priceless structures such as temples and pagodas were leveled by the quake. Despite the promise not much have been done in restoring them to their original shape, size, architectural beauty – in all to their original glory. Even when the government’s concerned agency wants to rebuild the structures, there have been controversies ranging from masonry materials to choice of contractors. This is bound to happen because of the fact that the people want the temples, shrines and other historic structures to be restored as soon as possible and because it is now virtually impossible to find craftsmen like those who originally made such temples and shrines a reality.

Uniqueness of these priceless structures, wood and stone carvings as well as idols is duly recognised by the UN body, UNESCO, which has put them in the world heritage list, a fact that should make us all Nepalese proud. These are mostly concentrated in the three cities of the Kathmandu Valley and restoring them will no doubt be an uphill task that will be both time consuming and expensive. But they have to be done for the sake of the future generation of Nepalese so that they have an identity of their own, uniquely different from others, even though in the present time we tend to ape the western culture.

Two years ago, the devastation brought all Nepalese together to help the needy and those genuinely affected by the devastating earthquake. Many a young men and women, boys and girls, helped in the rescue and relief operations. This was a pointer to the unity of the Nepalese people in times of crisis and will, one hopes, continue in future too. Such unity is needed for small countries, especially countries like Nepal which is surrounded by two big countries.

But lest we forget, the contributions of Nepalese living outside the country are no less important. The manner in which so many Nepalese who live in different parts of the world came forward to help is something that swells the heart of every Nepalese. There were many among us Nepalese who were opposed to dual citizenship for Nepalese who have obtained citizenship in foreign countries and there was a chorus from these Nepalese that they should be given dual citizenship.

The way they came forward in helping the fellow Nepalese in times of need such as the situation in the aftermath of the earthquake was really something to be appreciated by all. They did so through donations or by visiting this country in groups and going to the affected areas and providing material and emotional support to the affected people. This made many opposed to the dual citizenship rethink their opinion. As we remember two years of post-earthquake period, we cannot also forget the help we Nepalese received from the Nepalese living outside this country.

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