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The hour our lives changed, a year later

image credit here.


The congregation falls silent, heads bowed in contemplation. All I hear is the breeze blowing through the rustling trees, and the happy chirping of birds, oblivious to the human drama unfolding below.

I am at the university quad, surrounded by my fellow students and university staff members, all gathered at the memorial service to commemorate the tragedy that struck at this very hour, on this very day, exactly a year ago. 

We were joined by the entire nation.

The entire nation had grinded to a halt, each man, woman and child dedicating two minutes of their lives in silence, in remembrance to those who had perished in the great Christchurch earthquake; in remembrance to those left behind to soldier on and rebuild their shattered lives; in remembrance of the ordeals endured by each and every Cantabrian, one aftershock at a time.


I remember the walk to the main campus, a sweet sadness welling up deep inside me as I see traffic cones that still line the streets, filled with bunches of flowers, showing that love, beauty and hope could still exist in the constant reminders of our ruined city.


I remember the months of displacement, doing nothing, feeling nothing, except for the terror of the next wave of aftershocks. Nerves frayed. No work - school destroyed. No study - university building destroyed. Nothing but the drive to get through the next one. And the next.


I remember the rumbling that preceded the event, exactly a year ago. I remember the horror I felt when I was thrown about like a rag doll, totally at the mercy of the violent forces of Nature, and totally reliant on the Mercy of God. I remember the shock on the faces of the people I saw on the streets, not being able to comprehend the enormity and scale of the devastation they faced before them. I remember the people trapped in the buildings. I remember the souls who lost their lives. I remember my beloved city in ruins.

I am brought back to the present as the two minutes of silence ends.

I remember that I am still here.

I thank God.

I make my way into the dispersing crowd, and leave the university grounds.

* Part of my experience on 22 Feb 2011 can be seen here.


Cat-from-Sydney said…
Uncle A,
We visited Christchurch back in 2008 and to this day we still remember the beautiful city.....I can't imagine them being gone. But life goes on and we must soldier on. I have always wondered if your studies would have been affected. Good luck, sir. purrr....meow!
Hey Cat & Ange,

It's rally nice nice to hear from you guys again :)
Yeah, we soldier on. A year on, it's gotten back to being almost normal again. Almost.

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The End

I am in a hotel room.

It is unclear who else is in the room. It must be my family. But I am uncertain. I know I am in the room with people I love.

The hotel room is in a building that towers above ground level, and we can see all the houses below.

I am in Hawaii I think. How I know that I do not know. All I know is that we are beside the ocean.

I feel unsettled as I look out the window. Something is compelling me to look outside the window. It is getting dark. But I know by right it should not be dark. It is midday. And then I see it.

In front of me a huge storm cloud is gathering. But I start to quiver because it looks like no ordinary storm. The clouds are pitch black. Black as death. My eyes follow their shape to where they originate. I gasp.

I see a gigantic water spout, a tornado in the ocean, funnelling its energy to the black cloud. The water spout is also pitch black. Rain now pours uncontrollably. It is a hurricane at its full blast, but not just that. It is much, much more.

Aku, Bini dan Ginger Beer

Aku haus...

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Perasaannya apabila ku menggenggam botol kacanya yang sejuk dan berwap-wap dan mengangkatnya keluar peti ais kecilku, perasaannya seperti seorang kanak-kanak Taman Keramat memegang aiskrim Malaysia 10sen pada hari yang panas membara...

Riang... Nikmat... Penantian yang menyiksakan, tetapi penantian yang lazat...

Dengan pergerakan yang perlahan seperti 'slow-motion' dalam sinetron Indonesia kegemaran surirumah-surirumah di Malaysia, muncung botol Ginger Beer kegemaranku mampir bibirku yang terketar-ketar sedikit, sehinggalah aku dapat rasa cecair yang sejuk membasahi tekakku...


Sedap tidak terperi...

Aku menghulurkan kepada biniku, dan dia juga meneguk kenikmatan...

Aku menadah tangan meminta kembali Ginger Beer kesayanganku yang berjenama Bundaberg buatan New Zealand.

Saat itu tidak tiba-tiba...

Aku tertanya-tanya... Mata terkebil-kebil...

"Ni saya punya ya Bang..." ujar …