Sarita questions a Geology Learner

An ordinary student in a research team

“Let’s locate the spots for Accelerometers.” Professor John was talking to himself. I kept looking at his style of work, how he thinks, how he interprets thoughts in sketch and how long he can keep working. In a team of three researchers, I was an ordinary student. I was actually selected to be in the team so that I would see how researches are conducted. Apart from Professor’s John activities, I was interested to hear Professor Sharma who added another little detail to the explanation of Dr. Lucy. Professor John and Dr. Lucy were from an international team researching the nature of aftershocks of Gorkha Earthquake 2015. And Sharma sir was a representative researcher form Nepal. I would remain silent most of the times observing every science they applied in selection of accelerometer spot. And at times, I shared my queries with Sharma sir. He would clear every of my questions and even discuss it with two foreign researchers more on it. I didn’t miss the important points to note in my diary.

“Are you enjoying the field Ashrima?” Dr. Lucy smiled.

“Yes, I am.” I could only understand few things going on. But still, I was learning something.

“Ashrima, don’t stress yourself much. See, you have just completed BSc and it is natural for you not to get every details of the work. Just, concentrate on techniques and keep noting. Later, you can browse more of it and clear your ideas.” Sharma sir was always encouraging.

An aftershock

After completing installation of accelerometer in Hilepani, Okhaldhunga, we marched towards Ramechhap. Ramechhap was among the fourteen worse affected districts in Gorkha Earthquake. The roads were bumpy and narrow as we took the short way to reach the location. On the way, I could see the flattened houses, tents and debris. As soon as we reached the spot, we experienced a jolt. I was blue and pale but the three other were so normal that I had to pretend like I felt nothing at all. People were seen rushing out of their houses which were already cracked to some extent.

“It’s just an aftershock fellow, stay calm.” Professor John shouted. I am not sure if people understood what he meant.

It was not easy for people not to panic with aftershocks that time as this was probably the huge disasters in decades of years and we were not at all prepared to deal with such disasters. And still we haven’t.

Sarita’s questions

While we were continuing to place accelerometers, a girl patted me. I smiled and continued looking at the process just to revise the steps taken during installation in Hilepani. She patted me once again. I took her aside the working site and asked politely, “What do you want little girl?” Her eyes were beautiful and full of curiosity. She had put on the blue shirt and skirts which were full of stains unlike her heavenly smile.

“What are you doing here?” Her voice was soft.

“We are installing an accelerometer. Anyway, what is your name?”

“What’s that? My name is Sarita.”

“Well, it is device that can detect the vibration. So, we are recording every aftershock for the further research of earthquake. These foreign experts are funding this research project. We will have an outstanding data. I shall explain more but first tell me which grade are you studying?”

“I am studying in tenth. But don’t know if I will continue.”

“Okay, let’s leave accelerometer for a while. Tell, me why can’t you continue your study?”

“Do you see any house standing around? My house has become flattened and doors are the only standing thing. How can I afford going to school when I am spending nights with empty stomach?” She pulled my hands and took me towards her house.

I could hear Sharma sir. “Ashmira, where are you going?”

I replied. “I will be back in a while. Need a break.”

“Come soon.”

She took me in front of a collapsed house. There was a fragile tent structure supported by two bamboos. There was a man digging something in the debris.

“Do you see him? My mom and brother are inside this debris. It’s been fifteen days of the major shock and he still thinks they are alive.”

“I am so sorry to hear that. It is not at all safe to be in the damage area. He needs to come out of it.”

“Do you think he will? And don’t you think I didn’t try?”

“Now, will you tell me, the significance of your research data making my dad come out of the collapse? Can I ask you something more? You people came for your research and you know the roads are salutatory and rugged. Yet you managed to come here. But why didn’t anyone come here to make sure people alive are safe?”

I couldn’t answer her question. It is always difficult to connect sentiments of people when you are focusing the core researches. They are done to build up the better society but still you cannot explain on it when such types of questions are raised.

“Tell me how will it help us? And this is not the first team I have seen coming here and digging the field, placing box and connecting wires. You are third. You come do your work and go. Every time I expect, someone to come and tell us how we should for prepare further aftershocks. I am not expecting or asking for any relief as we already got two packets of biscuits last day.”

“Okay, calm down sweetie. We are conducting these study and researches for the better world and obviously this will help our government to prepare for the disasters. You are a school girl now. You will understand it more when you go to higher levels. But I am sorry for not being up to your expectations in conveying the people what we know about disasters.”

She was not satisfied with my answers. I moved towards the destructed house.

“Please call your father.”

“Dad, someone wants to meet you.”

I talked to her dad and he was mentally sound but was full of hope in finding his beloved wife and son. I convinced him to get out of the damaged house.

Let’s do disaster awareness

After an hour, I reached our site. The work had completed by then. “You look down after your one hour long break.” Sharma sir blasted into laughter.

“I just participated in rescue operation.”

“Your sense of humor is amazing, Ashmira.”

“Sir, what do you think of disaster awareness during our researches?”

 

Badal Pokharel

MSc. Engineering Geology (Second Semester)

Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus

Ghantaghar, Kathmandu

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