My First Byline News


Man who survived two quakes says ‘this one was really terrifying’

Monica Lohani

Bhaktapur,May 11
“That one…! Foundation stones of that house and the Nyatapol Temple were laid on the same
day,” said 98-year-old Ram Krishna Shrestha from Nala Bazaar, in Epatol-3 of Kavre
district, pointing towards rubble of his house made of mud and stone.

Though the famed five-storey temple in Bhaktapur survived the magnitude-7.6 earthquake
on April 25, Shrestha’s house was so badly damaged that it is now uninhabitable.
“The house is not safe to stay in. It may collapse anytime soon,” he added.
“Even in the 1934 mega quake, the house stood strong. It suffered
no major damage,” Shrestha said, “But, this quake completely damaged it.”
When asked about his 1934 quake experience, he recalled: “It was the day following Maghe
Sankranti (the first day of the Magh month). My mom was preparing lunch for the family.
She called me into the house to have hardened molasses block (chaaku), sesame seeds ladoo (
teel ladoo), yam and ghee. While I was climbing stairs, the whole house began to shake. My mom,
who was in the kitchen screamed ‘earthquake!’ and we all ran downwards seeking a safe
haven. My mom was chanting ‘Bhagwati,Bhagwati’.”
He still remembers that the democratic leaders Ganesh Man Singh, Sundar Chalise and Dharma
Bhakta Mathema provided them tents to stay in after the tremor. “We locals had stayed in
the open behind the house. It was terrifying,” he recounted.
“Though our house suffered no big loss, everyone was traumatised. Later, my mom brought
roti and chaaku from the kitchen. We survived on roti and chaaku for six months.”

He remembers the then king Tribhuvan giving Rs 25 for the work they had done during the
quake. “We were very happy. We bought a he-goat with that money and celebrated along with locals,” he said, adding but the quake on April 25 was even more terrifying. “I am lucky to have
survived two massive quakes,” he said.
“On that day (April 25), I was in the kitchen upstairs. When I realised it was an earthquake, I
slowly came down chanting ‘Bhagwati, Bhagwati’. The Bhagwati saved us,” said Shrestha.
The nonagenarian said most of his neighbours have shifted to other places after the quake.
“Some are still in the open. None has dared to step inside their house,” shared the elderly
man, “Though these houses look fine from the outside, you can find it ruined if you go inside and
check each room.”
“After the mega tremor 82 years ago, the government had provided relief goods to everyone.
It had not taken much time. But this government is too slow in distributing relief materials,”
he lamented adding: “When I ask the locals, they say the government relief will reach us
soon. But, it has not arrived yet. I don’t know when it will arrive.”

May 12 2015-The Himalayan Times