There was an earthquake here past . It registered a 6 on the Richter scale, reports say. It registered a 9 based on the Trauma scale, if there is any, among the people causing a little like hubbub over this mountain city. Sirens deafened all ears as paramedics rounded the business district moments after. At a nearby university, hordes of students came rushing in exits leading to a busy road causing severe traffic downtown. The mayor ordered classes and public offices suspended this afternoon in anticipation of aftershocks. In our office, the manager who was casually chatting with us about development issues was shocked by the sudden and prolonged tremor (about a minute, I think). The rest of the people at the building were seen heading for the front door at the instance of the manager; defying panic with the slow and calm pace. We stood by the front door with all the cloud of doubt around our heads if it’s the safest place to be with all the rootless and decomposing tall pine tress and electric posts before us. Nonetheless, the epic ends there as the tri-colored building cat prowled over downstairs toward our direction in that quotidian comportment. What would you expect from such aristocat lounging over after feasting from the leftover menu of a fine-dining resto right next to our building? A blessed cat indeed.
So life for this day went on but, of course, not without shoo-in roundabouts that slowly surfaced memories of a tragedy more than a decade ago. One shared something like her friend who happened to be pregnant at that time feared that her baby would be like a rotten egg. Another shared about trapped survivors eating their excrements for food and urine for water. Those were the last survivors of a ruined hotel who managed to hang on with their lives for weeks until rescuers found them deep in the rubble. Still, another shared how antipathy works among Filipinos even in times of catastrophes as when foreign relief like quality sleeping mats and tents are malversed and transformed into local banigs and mosquito nets instead. More than a thousand were killed in this city alone on that fateful day,
On a more personal level, I remember Murakami’s stories in After the Quake; on how the earthquake in Kobe became a subtlety to the different wrought directions mustered by the lives of different lonely and pervert individuals; on how such a devastating quake proved to be less than devastating compared to a person losing his sanity with a mammoth worm and a super frog in mind and another Komura who’s too engrossed with live TV footages on the shattered Kobe unnoticing the abandonment meted on him by her not-so-beautiful wife. I remember myself as a grade-school student being prodded by the teacher outside because of lack of fear and too much interest in solving a math problem on my notes. As we were crouched on the wide open space right next to our classroom where the flag ceremony is being held, I noticed that most of the pupils were looking up in the skies as if waiting for some kind of manna. In our small village, talks about a relative wailing for her daughter who was then billeted at the Hyatt Hotel together with a Japanese became an overbearing news much like a television series where every scene is sumptuously awaited and devoured. The teleserye ended abruptly days after because of a news which mentioned a Japanese sounding name as one of the survivors together with the relative’s daughter. They were apparently enjoying at the
Earthquakes are occurring regularly, so too are ineffable discomforts rooted on tragic memories, and like a seismologist so opined, most of them no longer pass our thresholds of feeling.