The ground beneath
1 May 2015
Five days after the earthquake, Nagarkot still awaits aid.
“Careful,” warns a young man holding his two-year-old daughter as I’m entering what remains of his house.
Nagarkot, a hill station about 20 kilometres from Bhaktapur and a little over 30 kilometres from the capital city of Kathmandu, is now a sad sight. Some concrete houses are left standing but most others have collapsed entirely. The remaining ones are now unsafe to live in. In spite of its relative proximity to the capital, no relief has yet reached Nagarkot, a full five days after the ground first started shaking beneath their feet.
Walking the trail of this tragic calamity, 40-year-old Jagat Bahadur Lama, who was part of the Maoist intelligence ten years back and is today a social worker, tells me that there are around 850 houses with close to 1100 families – about 5000 people – in the 13 wards of Nagarkot. “By now my estimate is that there’s close to 15 arabs [25 million USD] and thousands of tents which have reached Nepal, but nothing has come here.”
Relief has not yet begun to reach the more remote areas in rural Nepal, except for the few tarpaulins supplied by Nepal Red Cross. Most material required to build temporary shelters are still being purchased by the local. The nearby Serene Resort has donated a few sheets of tarpaulin. These makeshift camps house close to 40-50 people. The community kitchen is maintained by the women.
Jagat’s younger brother, Sonam Bahadur Lama, is trying to push away the stone slabs from his house, which has partially caved in, with a bamboo pole. He recollects the day of the earthquake, “I was on my way to work in Thamel and was sleeping in the bus when I was woken up by loud cries of women. Right before me an entry gate came tumbling down, and I saw a young woman and a man smashed to death. I called home to hear that my youngest daughter of 15 months is alive because of my younger brother’s heroics.” He points to the bed inside the fallen house where his youngest daughter was sleeping. “He climbed in through the window into the ruins of my house and brought down my daughter unscathed.”
Looking around at the remains of his house, he says, “I’ve been in the same clothes for the last five days as the rest lay underneath there. When are we going to get some help?”
~Rudra Rakshit is a freelance photographer and writer based in Bangalore.