A pretty large earthquake hit Nepal and India with a high toll – especially in Nepal. However, the effects were felt all the way in southern Bengal where all my folks live. They are all fine.
But talking to them was one of the endearing exercises I could have ever gone thru for a couple of hours early this Saturday morning. First and foremost, every family member wanted to talk to describe to me their first hand experience and eye witness report. And some of the reports were hilarious to say, the least.
My sister – who absolutely believes all adjectives exist to be used in the superlative form only – is convinced that this is the worst earthquake in the history of mankind. When I mildly challenged her the earthquake could not have lasted for two minutes in Kalyani when it was about 20 seconds in Delhi (much closer to the epicenter), she retorted “Tora America-y thakis boley nijeder sobjaanta bhabis”. Apparently, we Americans are prone to thinking of ourselves as know-alls!! In her mind, on the Richter scale of 0-9.5 (highest recorded), this one fell outside the Richter scale.
I understand her building swayed by “at least one foot” on either side. When pointed out a five storey building cannot take that level of stress, she was very pleased with herself that she had chosen a much better construction company than any other in that area.
The elderly ones – my dad, father in law and such had a very similar reaction to the earthquake. Not expecting an earthquake in the slightest bit, each one of them concluded that they were having a heart attack or some kind of massive health failure!! Somehow it never struck my parents that there is little to no chance that both of them will have a heart attack at the exact same time.
As I was hearing my mom describe the earthquake, I could hear my dad rattling off all sorts of geographical stuff from behind. (Geography used to be his forte). I could hear him from the background ask my mom to check if I knew what the “Ring of Fire” was. Curiously, he thought 7.9 Richter is higher than “normal”. As much as I tried to convince him there is nothing called “normal” in measurement of earthquake, he firmly stood his ground that 6 is normal. I think he is watching too much IPL these days.
On the other end of the age spectrum, the youngest family members had a more measured response. My eleven year nephew simply said “dnariye dnariye knepe gelam” (meaning, I got shaken up merely trying to stand up). The youngest nephew (nine years old) had an even simpler answer when asked what did he do :
“Ami to mejhey-tey shue-ey porlam” (I laid down on the floor)
“Keno”? (Why), I asked
“Dekhchhilam kirokom laagey” (I was trying to find out how it feels).
I really wish I had a few more hours this morning. It would have been awesome to call up a few more relatives…