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.