The shake

4 AM. Friday 4 September, 2010, Christchurch.

The bed rattled. There must have been a rumbling thud we missed. 

It didn’t take us long to realize that it was not a nightmare.Nightmares do not start with a rumbling thud and rattle the house.

As we awakened to a realization that we were in the middle of a major earthquake, the lights just went out, plunging the household into an eerie darkness; only creaking of the walls, rattle of the bookcases, and violent shakings remained, and being became unbearable.
Then the street lights went out, plunging the outside into darkness, the glimmer of a moonlit starry sky sneaked through the glass window of the bedroom.

As we lay huddled together in the moonlight and the house continued to rattle like it was some being’s plaything, we could sense books and crockeries rolling over, the slam bang of the stuff around.

Sensemaking should have reminded us to crawl beneath the bed, or sneak under the doorway, or something. it didn’t happen that way.

Sensemaking gave way to an impending doom. This must have been Tandava, Shiva’s dance of the apocalypse. A sense of impending doom engulfed our mind. After forty seconds of rattling in the tenebrous womb of the night, (or early dawn), it receded. 

We emerged from the cocoon of darkness, and went inside the car. We waited for the night to end, and looked for the first rays of dawn. There were more rattling inside the car, there were intermittent bursts of the wave.

Baby in the back-seat tells us that she wants to use the toilet. Yeah, right. She has to do it now, like right now.

The phone rings inside the house.

Time to go inside.

We rushed in and answered the call. A terrified friend was on the other side of the line. The kid flushed the toilet.

Time for reckoning that this weekend would not be like another.

Got to fill up the gas tank. Get a gas bottle. Prepare for barbecue (yes). The tank was nearly dry. Are the tinned food stocked?

Provisions. Food. Hunger. The primordial urge.

There would be no electricity possibly for days.

Internet was not an option. Nor electricity at least for now. Charge on the cellphone was low. This was meant to be charged over the weekend. Not an option now.

The landline still worked. Thankfully the phone was an old jab in the wall type, we never got around to get a cordless for the house.

Simple is better.

Microwave was not an option, neither the hob. Old style stove was. Now where was the gas lighter?

TV was not an option, transistor was.


Be prepared to leave.

Take only that is absolutely necessary. No more.

Unclutter. Simplify. Be frugal.

Go back to the basics.

Lessons of life, we still had a second hance before the aftershocks came.

Time for reckoning.

Only if we could live the life over again.

(TBC …)



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