By Harshita Y S
The sharp sound of sirens, lots of disturbing noises followed a sudden silence and buzzing in ears. My head started to feel waves of dizziness and headache. I think there is a lot of noise around me which I am not able to make out, because of the buzzing sound in my ears presumable due to the sudden loud sound I heard just before I lost my conscious. The sound before I lost conscious? Before losing conscious, I was near, I was near the bridge. Yeah, near the bridge, what was I doing? I was near the bridge doing what? I remember waving at a boat, A Boat…
‘My children! Help! Chandu! Rohan! Cha—’
‘Make way for the rescue team! —’
‘Injured people move to —’
‘Help! my leg ahh —’
There was a burst of many voices at once huddled together in pain, agony, despair and urgency interlaced within them, but none pleasant on ears, so many and so close making my already buzzing head worse, but also making me aware of the surroundings. I can see through my blurry eyes filled with tears and blood bringing with it a rusty smell and the devasting situation around me. The after math of a collapsed bridge and following destruction.
I felt around me to realize that I was latched to a tree trunk, has I leaned against it in an uncomfortable position which is neither sitting nor standing with all my weight on left shoulder and back, to elevate the pain in my right leg and dizziness while trying to asses my situation.
At a distance I can see the broken bridge hanging on the broken metal wires, half sinking in the river surrounded by small rescue boats. Boats, yes boat! it was a boat I was waving at. I was waving to my nephew and sister who were about to reach ashore after their sightseeing tour of the night city. I remember seeing my sister’s joyful face turning to that of horror as she shouted something at me, I can’t remember what it was. Now I can’t see it either. I feel nausea and sharp pain in my head.
I tried limping toward the crowd of people near the ambulances. There are people who are crying and moving from one stretcher to another and others who are surrounding the doctors and nurses, who are busy giving first aid and transferring injured people to stretchers and onto ambulances. I feel scared as I see them, scared with every step, I feel my feet becoming heavier and head lighter with every step closer. I can hear many voices but also none with every wobbly step I take. I staggered forward has another stretcher was rushed forward in a hurry towards a doctor who was urged to look at the person on stretcher by one of the men beside the stretcher in tears almost begging kneelingly.
I turned my head unable to bear only to find myself looking at a kid around five, in yellow t-shirt dyed with red blood floating in river. My heart stopped. Even before my thoughts feet were running toward the river trying to bring the kid ashore, despite the biting pain from cold water soaked on the fresh wounds, I felt nothing. And I dare not look at the kid’s face even when I hold the kid close to my chest with shivering hands. There was no breath and the temperature was cold, I told myself that it’s because of wet cloths, as I rushed toward the doctor. I still didn’t dare look at the kid even when the doctor was checking the pulse as I stared down at the blood oozing of my injured leg in daze.
I felt a light gentle pat on my shoulder and I could feel my stomach wrenching, I felt it even with out words. Tears flowed down my cheeks has I tried my best not to cry while taking the now cold body in to my embrace as many thoughts started running through my brain, my sister who was laughing minute ago, my parents who are waiting home for our return to have dinner, my serious brother-in-law who smiled for the first time holding Rahu, the cute spider man toy I brought has a birthday present this weekend, he was about to turn six, go to school, make friends, he was just a kid, small and lovely. I felt a chill on my chest stopping my thoughts as my embrace was empty and mind sluggish as I searched for my nephew Rahu who now is in a strange woman’s embrace.
The shouting and crying slowly turned into an inaudible sobs. Looking at the back that was shaking severely holding the kid tightly in her bosom in-front of me, I collapsed as strength left my body. A wave of relief washed over me, just for a second though. The sobbing of the despaired woman woke me up, I still had to search for them. Struggling to pick myself of the ground reminded me of how Rahu would stubbornly struggle to ride a cycle on his own rejecting any help, a willful kid. Remembering it made me relax a little and gave me strength to search further. Slight pain twinged my leg as I moved to look around when something in hindsight flew and attached itself to my leg bringing more pain, making we let out a pained grunt. The thing clamping around my leg loosened as I looked down trying to make out what it was. I was shocked, shocked to see Rahu with a bandaged head and red eye with tears welling up stare at me with clear black eyes. Regardless of pain I bend down to grasp the breathing warm child into my chest holding tightly to assure myself that it was real. It was true, warm and soft, it was real.
I heard my nephew crying under his breath trying to catch some air in my tight hug saying some incoherent words. I started patting his back slowly trying to appease the kid and myself. I knew I had to find my sister and stay strong to protect the child in my embrace I pulled myself to move forward towards the crowd as I steeled myself for what is to come. The warm child in my embrace and the soft sobs of the mother behind both felt so close to my ears has I walked to the temporary camp. A part of me doesn’t want to and is scared of finding the truth, while telling myself maybe everything is fine just like Rahu, Sis will also suddenly come hug me telling me everything’s alright and she is fine. I tightened my hold on Rahu as I walked into the chaotic crowd of people rushing around to find their loved ones becoming one of them, trying to find my loved one, scared of the worst and hoping for best with my every steps.
By Harshita Y S