Natural calamities know no limits; No boundaries; No cast; No creed; they are great levelers, in their wake they destroy every thing...In the face of such furies of Nature, why can't we human beings live in peace and harmony & not destroy each other...

Tremors of Death-Viva La Mama!

I was rushing down the stairs to my clinic, when I felt the tremors; they were so mild that I attributed them to the rickety banister. But in Muzzafarabad, an earthquake of 7.4 on Richter scale has buried more than 50,000 people alive, with their own homes turning into their graves- most of them children-a whole generation is wiped out; My mind flashes back to the earthquake of Ahmadabad; here is a true survival story of grit and courage, I hope it inspires some of those who are suffering now to go on with their lives. This might be the story of thousands right now...

(A tribute to Nalini Khumbhare, whose courage and motherly sacrifice for her baby boy triumphed over the black-death-quake-Friday on 26th January 2001 in Ahmadabad)

She lay beneath the rubble,
In dark and gloomy sepulchre,
Buried alive!

Earth shaking beneath her,
The roof just perched above her
With chaos all around her-
Feet running helter-skelter,
And the fear that it might just
Collapse down upon her.

She clenched her baby tight
To her heaving breast,
He shrieked and wailed,
She shrieked and wailed,
To no avail!
When he stopped, she pinched him hard
To keep his shrieks alive
Lest someone becomes
Aware of their plight
And may just rescue them
From this quake-ravaged site...

Then it became quiet,
Silent as the grave
As she remained buried
In the dungeon of her fate

She too became quiet
Too exhausted to cry,
She tried to reflect
How it all came by:

Her husband had snatched their daughter
As he ran outside
She hoped and prayed to God
That they were still alive...

Her whole life flashed before her eyes:
How happy they were together
On their wedding day
In ecstasy of honeymoon,
Warm in his arm she lay...
The fruit of their love
Their bonny little girl,
Her eyes sparkling bright
Her sweet sunny smile
The chirping all day long
Her eager way of response...

Her eyes clouded over
With anguish and remorse
Then flashed an apparition
Of her precious little soul:
'Don't worry Mama!
I am perfectly alright!'

She came to present with a jerk,
Her baby boy was crying
With unbearable hunger-pangs,
She searched high and low
With nothing worth eating
All she could see around
Were rubble, soil and sand,
She had to feed the baby to make him withstand
She fed him sand!
With trembling hands!
He swallowed eagerly
The gritting in his mouth
Lunged deeply at her heart
And she hugged him tenderly.
But some kind of satisfaction,
Albeit psychological,
Quietened him a bit
He sank into a slumber
Of fatigue and exhaustion,
She shook him violently-
Afraid he might sleep
The sleep of eternity-
But his regular breathing
Gave her certainty...

Suddenly she saw a ray of light
Through a tiny hole in the roof:
A tiny ray of hope,
Sent by Providence
To enable her to cope...

She counted days and nights
By day howling loudly,
By night clutching her baby tight.
Thus passed four days and nights
Four thousand deaths she died
With each exhalation
Holding on to dear life,
It was then she realized:
Death was just a breath away from life...

It was the heart of a mother
The sense of sacrifice,
The spirit of survival,
That kept him and her alive...

Suddenly there was a big commotion,
The roof shook above her
She thought heavens are falling
Angels of death were calling
She closed her eyes tight,
Prepared for the final flight!
Then she was dazzled
By a sudden light:
She thought she was in Heaven-
The luminescence so bright!
Till she heard them calling:
'Give us the baby!'
'Give your baby to us!'
It then dawned upon her
They were the angels of Mercy
It was heaven on earth!
She could not believe her stars
That she was still alive!
But it was a second coming
She had been to hell and back!

What a blessing it was to be alive!
She promised herself,
Never to squander away this life...

Now that she has triumphed
Over death,
Her boy in her arms,
She made herself a pledge:
To start all afresh!
And try not to mourn
The price she had to pay
(She just heard that her bonny daughter had passed away).
For whenever she looks up,
She sees her daughter smiling
Down from the clouds:
'Mama don't worry,
I am perfectly alright!'
And, I would like to see you,
Alive, happy, and bright...

Author: Zoya Zaidi
Aligarh (UP), India
Copyrightę Zoya Zaidi


Poetry by Zoya Zaidi
Read 1397 times
Written on 2005-10-13 at 03:43

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At the end of it all I am speechless.Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the confort that is our world and foret that there arec people in this life who have gone through harrowing experiences and survived....this poem reminds me the ways of sand through an hourglass.And alas I am not taking mine for granted!

Wonderful, beautiful touching! It brought a tear to my eye...

This is great story poem and so giving courage to all souls and minds, wonderful write

What a wonderful, thoughtful poem. I am utterly amazed at some people's courage.

i wish i was able express in words wat happened my place but i guess somebody just did.this is one story and numerous others lay burried in heaps of rubble and stone that they once laboured with sweat to build,waiting to be read aloud!

A moving story, and very vividly described! Huge forces can be unleashed in the earth's deep, but also in the human heart...

this was really a wonderful peom and the way you described the moments of her babby and her self was really amazing i almost had to stop and catch my breath beucase i thought that was awfu how she was traped like that. and then the babby just skips away into another world it mad me sad yes but it mad me smile also knowing that the baby is in a better place now awsome poem

A lively narrative, with intensity of the empathetic experience and humanity at the core of reflection. Well structured. Congrats.
When the earthquake in Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan and POK struck, I didn't imagine my son, a Major in the Indian Army, would also experience it. I was proved wrong. He was in his office, suffering the tremors and shocks, while at the neighbouring Uri, there was a massive destruction. When he called up the next day, he said what it was like to suffer the quake for the first time and see the massive landslide from the top of the snowy sub-zero hill. The suffering in Kashmir, believe me Zoya, is worse than the suffering in Gujarat quake. But, death and destruction see no caste, colour, creed or religion.

Zoya Zaidi
Thanks Angie, Those are the words of a kind heart. To think, this and so many like it are true stories. But sadly my text appeared in the middle,because, in oder to accomodate that intro (which got cut), I unposted it and spent a long time trying to edit it, & finally when I posted it, it appeared almost in the middle, down the line. Love's labour lost!! now there is a chance, it might go unnoticed,it will also pass out quickly. Anyway, infuture, I'll be careful. Love, Zoya

there is enough terror in nature without fighting among ourselves in this world, this is indeed gripping, I found myself holding my breath.

chasingtheday The PoetBay support member heart!
arr were you hiding this away in diary :) i have left a forum post on diary entries etc. i haven't been to your page so did not see any work.

nature is a cruel force at times, we must bow down to her, respect her, if we become complacent she will show us her way. in times of such sorrow, where many lives are quashed, there are always those brave souls, fighting for survival, in the face of incredible harsh life, they come through strong.

perhaps one day we human beings will live in peace and harmony.