Nepalese sleep on the highway in fear of further earthquake aftershocks at Mugling town

Grace in the Ruins: Nepal’s Earthquake

Parth Sanyal

Nepal. 27 – 29 April 2015

I was taking a workshop in Kolkata when I felt the strong tremor. At that moment the location of the earthquake was not sure, though gradually Nepal was pointed to be the epicentre. Soon, the devastating pictures of Kathmandu were all over the news and social media.

I was not part of any media, so it was rather difficult for me to get access through the government organisations heading for Nepal to provide relief to the victims and the survivors. But I wanted to cover this devastation, and so I decided to move by train and by road to reach Nepal. I never thought of going to Kathmandu, but rather reaching far-flung areas in Nepal that were close to the epicentre.

Information was coming that many villages have been razed in the Gorkha district, but reaching these villages became extremely difficult. Monetary resources were definitely one of my biggest concerns, as I was not assigned to do this coverage. I visited villages and small towns, most of which had no existence after the earthquake. I thank the truck drivers carrying relief materials to these remote and inaccessible villages, who gave me a lift so that I could reach these places.

The images from Kathmandu were of devastation and grief and mourning. That is what is expected out of human tragedies of that magnitude. But my images do not show all that. The poor people of these villages are not mourning, nor are they so much worried about those who remain still buried in the rubble of the mountains. Some told me they do not have time to dig out the dead, as they have to rebuild their houses and start their new lives as fast as possible: Monsoon season was fast approaching. There was human tragedy here, but these people did not have the time to sit back and grieve.

A woman who had noticed me working the whole day in that terrain offered me lunch, made from the relief food material that she had received after the earthquake. Another tea shop owner did not take money for the tea and biscuits which I had from her shop and she told me “ you have taken so much of effort of coming from Kolkata to take pictures of our condition, how can I take money such a simple tea and biscuit.”

Read More: