This is a fictional story. The only non-fictional part if it is the earthquake itself. Any similarities with real persons or real events are unintentional. In reality the two earthquakes occurred with nearly 17 days in between. In this story it is four days in between, to increase the impact of the story. Please share this and spread the word!
This story is written as a tribute to all victims of the April 2015 Nepal Earthquake and to bring attention to the ones in need.
Food for Thought
”We are all humans, on the same planet, experiencing the same pain of lost family and friends. So let’s help the ones that lost theirs today, so we get help when we lose our’s tomorrow.” — Viktor Aronsson, 2015
For five years I had been there, located in a village at one of Mount Everest’s steepest edges. When my wife passed away in cancer a few years ago, before I got there, I was lost and heartbroken. I did not know what to do with the rest of my life. We’d known each other since we were kids, hanging out nearly every day after school and then one day, after a lesson in high school, we fell in love. I knew that I would never feel that bond with someone again, nor did I want to, she was the one I loved and I always will.
When she passed away I cried for days, didn’t sleep. She was gone, I couldn’t take it! To be unable feel her warm comforting at night was beyond unimaginable. I was on the edge of taking my own life when I realized that, eventually, one day my life will come to an end whether I’m the one taking it or not, and I might as well use it to help others live a better one. So I contacted the Red Cross and asked to be stationed in one of the most needing places in the world were there was no war. They stationed me in Nepal, in one of the poorest villages, and there I lived for five years.
Once a month a helicopter would come flying in with food, medicine, water, and farming supplies. That made it possible for the village to grow its own food supply, and also helping other villages near survive poverty. I helped with everything, from building houses to farming. The people who lived in the village were there for me as much as I was there for them, they were my family.
In the village there were around 40 men, women and children. When I first got there people were confused why they had a new resident of their village that they’d not approved of. But one family welcomed me. It existed of a women with one child, who was turning 18 years old the day it happened. Ever since I got to the village he looked up to me. His father disappeared when he was very young while climbing the mountains looking for some farm animals that had escaped. So he never quite had a father figure. Even if I didn’t understand the language I could understand what their intentions were and what they meant. The funny thing was that I couldn’t pronounce his name! I tried a lot actually. So instead, I called him Sam! He reminded me of my brother who’s name is that.
When I weren’thelping out in the village, I was climbed Mount Everest. The fresh, thin, pollution free air — as well as a clear sky above me — made me feel invincible when standing on top of a hill looking out over the land. I forgot all my worries and just lived in the moment. Now when falling I wish to some extent that I could be there instead. It was a view worth a million pictures!
As I mentioned before, that day was Sam’s birthday, he was becoming a man! I understood that he was afraid of climbing, which must have been because the loss of his father. But I decided to ask him if he wanted to join me for a climb to the first checkpoint of Mount Everest anyway. At first he was a bit unsure, but after some thought his reply was yes, in his own language of course.
It was the morning of the event and as we rose towards the checkpoint we had to take an alternate route because of rainfall that had created a small flood on the path a few days before, leaving only a steep ditch behind. After a few hours of hiking, and climbing, the sun started to set so we decided to set camp and wait for morning. We lit a fire and sat around attempting to talk. Suddenly I heard a noise, a dark rumbling.
Sam asked what the noise was. I said it was just my stomach being hungry, as always! We laughed together but soon realized it was the ground that made the noise! It was shaking! Stones started running down the mountain! That very second, I realized it was an earthquake. I told Sam who was panicking to quickly run and take cover and that I would find other climbers and guide them to safety. After all that was my mission being in Nepal, to help the ones in need. I heard Sam yell after me but I knew what I had to do and that he was safe where he was standing, or at least I thought so.
I ran across the shaking ground in hope to find people who walked near the trail. I saw a group of seven hikers who were all confused and scared. I called out at them to follow me. When I reached the hangover where I had left Sam, it felt like a piece of me got lost, the same piece that got lost years ago.
Both Sam and the hangover was gone! I told the hikers to stay around this area and stay clear of large stones and loose parts of the mountain. As the earthquake slowly worn off I ran faster in hope of finding Sam. In my mind I repeated the sentence; ”I will not loose another friend! I will not LOOSE another friend!”. Tears started running down my face. I hit my self on the chin, and screamed; ”Shut up Harris! Find him! Fucking find him!”. I wiped the tears of my face and kept on running, what else could I do…
I probably ran for hours round the area where I had left him, time didn’t matter anymore! All that mattered was finding him. But nothing, I found nothing! I sat down on a loose rock and took my hands infront of my face, covering it. I yelled in tears; ”Why had I asked him to join me for a hike?! Why did I ask him to stay?! How could I be such an fucking idiot! With my luck I was bound to lose him! Fuck!” I was furious at my self as tears ran down my face. I was lost, just like a few years ago. It seemed like I was cursed to lose people. I promised myself to not leave the mountain before I had found Sam, at least his body.
I ran up a hill to get a better viewpoint when I heard another rumble, but just a short one. I turned around and saw how a boulder came flying towards me. I tried to avoid it but it was too late, the boulder hit me and I thought ”I still might be able to find him.” as my mind faded.
What felt like a nanosecond later I woke up in a hospital, not understanding anything, barely remembering who as was. Though soon all my memories came back. But they were so abstract and still are at this very second. A doctor came in and started talking to me. He told me that a helicopter looking for survivors in the aftermath of the earthquake had found me. For some reason, him saying that made me angry. What was a calm talk quickly evolved into me screaming at the him for saving me and not Sam. The doctor was confused, but for all I know they could have been choosing between saving me or Sam.
After my voice started to fade he told me they had searched the whole area, but had found no one from the village I was yelling about. They only found eight survivors on the side that I had been climbing, including me. Then the doctor began describing my medical status, saying that my state was stable. Except for a concussion which had worn off days ago and some minor injuries. I did not question that I had no further injured after being hit by a boulder, I asked how long ago the earthquake was.
Four days! The earthquake was four days ago!? All my chances of saving Sam was gone. The doctor said that I should be happy I survived with just minor injuries. He left in a hurry after seeing my facial expression when he said that.
I got out of the hospital that same day and requested the helicopter that had rescued me to fly me back to where they found me in an attempt of rescuing more. Their reply was that there are no more survivors, if they were alive before, they won’t have survived this week.” He thought it was a stupid idea but agreed to take me back to the mountain anyway.
Everything was different on the mountain side. I looked at what I think was the overhang where I had told Sam to stay. With that thought I stepped out of the helicopter, but my legs couldn’t carry me. Once again I felt like the world was crumbling around me. I felt anger and fear run through my body. I sat down at the edge of the mountain, with a few hundred meters down below my feet.
I turned around and looked, hoping to see some sign of life. As I was turning my head back I heard a short breath, very weak but still as if it came from a human. As quickly as I could I ran to where the sound was coming from and saw a hand sticking up from the cover of rocks. I threw the rocks out of the way and there was Sam. My eyes filled with tears, tears of joy.
I helped him stand up whilst I called back the helicopter with a cracking voice. As the it landed I helped Sam get on it and then walked to get my backback which I left at the edge of the mountain. About a minute later I heard Sam yell from the helicopter, he was panicking. The ground shook, it was another earthquake. I ran as quickly as I could towards the helicopter.
With less than half of the way left left I saw a big boulder coming towards the helicopter, and behind a wave of small rocks. So I stopped and ordered the helicopter to leave through the walkie-talkie. At first the pilot hesitated by I told him calmly to leave and get Sam to safety. There was no way I would make it in time to the helicopter without the boulder hitting it and the small flood of rocks made it impossible for the helicopter to land again.
I sat down on the ground and watched the helicopter lift of while Sam was yelling and did not know what to do. It looked like he was in chock, maybe he hadn’t seen the boulder. I just smiled supportively at him as a closed my eyes. I felt that I had done my duty here and that I could leave this world in peace. I heard the swoosh of the large boulder go by and ignored the pain as the wave of smaller rocks hit my skin, I was calm surprisingly. I was going to meet my lost one, my love. Even if I’m not a believer I can hope I will meet her.
I felt how the wave immobilized me and pushed me over the edge of the mountain. I knew I was going to be gone in a matter of seconds and I saw all these events of the last few days pass by. I just hope I will see the ones I love. At least just for a second when I di…