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  • Writer's pictureRaja

Chennai Earthquake on 12th June 2010

The Shake of my life

(Original post published on Jun 17, 2010 @ 12:05)

Making the kids sleep on time at night itself is a big feat to achieve for parents having young ones like me. I was no exception on that night of Saturday the 12th of June 2010. Telling scary stories or bringing in a beautiful fairy inside the kids room or at times making your neighbor’s son the bad guy is all up to the parent’s creativity who tell stories to the kids at night. I did the same with my son in telling him a police story and assuring him that everything will be alright and he need not worry about someone knocking at the door in the midnight or getting any night mares.

Well, I succeeded with my responsibility and relieved myself from my sons bunker and retreated to the sofa to watch some TV program with my wife. Watching the reality show together has become a norm for us at night and we did thoroughly enjoy the show before hitting the bed at around 11pm.  Weather in Chennai for the last few days had become so pleasant that we had to regulate the speed of the fan before I could switch of the light. It has become quite habitual for my son to wake me up every night because of the supposedly bad dream he narrates to me as an excuse.  Now you would probably appreciate and relate the precautionary step I took in telling him a police story before he went to bed.

Deep in slumber, I was suddenly disturbed by someone shaking me and trying to wake me up. I opened my eyes pretty confidently to get hold of my son and put him back on his bunker. But I was shocked to see that there was no one standing near my bed. Jolted by that vague instance I stood on my foot immediately to only experience the worst ever night mare of my life. Yes, I could very clearly feel the building almost shaking or infact swaying rapidly. Little did I know at that time, that I was not the only one to have faced such a horror.  Having experienced some mild tremors in the past I quickly appreciated my instinct which sounded an alarm to me that this was an EARTHQUAKE.

Before I could yell out to my wife and mum I could see both of them in action in that split second and as a captain of the house I quickly asked them to rush out of the house. Undisturbed by all these things, both my son and daughter were in their own world in their bed. We literally grabbed them and preparing to whisk off.  While even opening the locks of our door we could hear the commotion outside in the stair case. Residing in the 9th floor always makes you feel proud of the panoramic view you can enjoy but it made me think otherwise during that night.  My wife asked me to quickly grab my mobile and so did I running back to the bedroom. My brain was already working at supersonic speed and drawing conclusions of what sought of disaster might happen in the next second. I honestly lost hope of reaching the ground after experiencing such a bad shake which really shook the life out of me.

We quickly locked the door and dashed down the stairs as it was dangerous to use the lift. Both the exit stairways were full of people jamming the movement and it could only be said that it was a “Race for our life”. While going down I pressed the door bell of the other residents who were not aware of this incident. My wife was carrying my son and I was holding on to my daughter. I was also frantically calling my relatives though my mobile to check on their status. Rushing down the stairs, I did not feel that good to leave my mum behind and run for safety and hence was trying to accompany my old mum in the stairs. But at the same time, I did not want my daughter to be a victim and hence assured my mum that I will be back to take her to safety. Stepping out of the building I could see most of the residents curiously standing outside but still close to the building. I cautioned all of them to move away because if anything untoward happens then their effort to escape would be in vain. Some residents did heed to my warning and we all moved together bit far away while I was trying to locate my wife so that I could handover my daughter and full fill my promise which I made to my mum.

I rushed back into the building and was anxiously glancing through the people coming down the stairs. I inquired about my mum and was told that she was trailing behind in the 2nd floor. Poor old lady pulled out all her strength and courage to walk down all the nine floors. This just affirmed me that people can pull out themselves from crisis only if they had the will, courage and an inclination for their life. Our family reunion took place at around 1:20am in the car park area and we were only praising the god that nothing bad happened.  We probably would have been out of our shelters for only 1 hour, but we could feel all the unease and the disadvantages of not having a roof over our head.  My daughter felt terribly cold, my son was complaining about not able to sleep, my wife and mum wanted to go to the toilet immediately and I felt that I had not taken my car keys so that we could escape from that place.

Eventually at around 2:10am people started getting back into the building and so we followed suit. Shaken by this incident we were quite confident that we were not going to sleep the rest of the night. Keeping my feet back in our house again just brought back that horrifying moment and made me to forcefully recollect the SHAKE OF MY LIFE. (which measured 7.8 in the Richter scale)

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