When Mother Nature unfurls her fury, lives turn into ruble in a second and even the grandest of constructions gets its pride crumbled into dust. What has happened and is happening in Nepal and parts of India is horrifying. But sadly, it’s nothing new.

As I sat watching the visuals of earthquake on TV, I was reminded again of the past such events when a slight twist in nature’s mood caused widespread destruction. The earthquake in Gujarat, Uttarkashi, the Tsunami, the earthquake in Japan, the list of such nightmares in my memory has now become too long. And if we don’t stop messing with nature in such careless way, I fear the list is going to increase at a rapid pace. I don’t know how many nightmares are waiting to unleash havoc on us in the near future and what place would Mother Nature use next as stage to display her dance of destruction.

As I was thinking of the past disasters, I remembered this poem that I wrote after the devastating earthquake of 2001 that had turned a day of national celebration into a day of mourning. Made me realize that the construction and development can take many shapes, but the face of destruction is same everywhere and every time.

(I don’t remember now what image inspired this poem. But I think it was a visual of a lady’s foot sticking out from the rubble of a mud house. Her foot was adorned with an anklet, but it had been stilled forever.)

26th January 2001

A child’s wail, a mother’s cry,

a broken man, and his house,

a stoned face and closed eye

and from the mud

a foot sticking out.

Houses would emerge one day

and life would itself rebuild.

But those dead would wake no more.

Anklets on that foot

would never sing.

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