November 7, 2023

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‘God did not leave anyone for me to cry with’: Inside Nepal’s quake-hit village, where almost every house has lost someone | World News

3 min read

When Uday Kami reached his village after scaling over 3,000 km on Monday evening, his family members had not exactly told him what had happened. But the 40-year-old sensed that something was amiss. “From the tone of people who called me, I sensed something really bad had happened,” he said.

Kami had rushed back from Malaysia after a crisis phone call from his neighbours and extended family. He works as a loader at a port there.

In the deadly earthquake that jolted Nepal on Friday night, every house in his village of Kolchour under Bheri municipality, has lost someone.

When he reached his village, he was in for a shock.

All his family members — wife Januka Shonar (37), daughters Sharmila (13), Anjalika (9), son Ujjwal (4) and mother Astha Kumari (61) — had died and his house reduced to rubbles.

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“I have lost everyone and everything,” said a inconsolable Kami. “God didn’t leave anyone for me to cry with.”

Inside Nepal’s quake-hit village, where almost every house has lost someone A boy picks out belongings from the debris of his house. (Express photo by Asad Rehman)

Three months ago, Kami had bagged a job and went to Malaysia. Before leaving, he had borrowed around Rs 10 lakh — for travelling, and to repair his house. Now, all his belongings lie under the debris.

“I didn’t think I would lose everyone,” he said, “I have no will to live anymore”.

He is survived by his brother Mohan who also lost his 11-year-old daughter Neerita in the quake. Their sister, Lalmati too lost her eight-year-old daughter Bisnu Tirwa. Overall, the family has lost seven members.

On Tuesday, they had all gathered to mourn.

In the neighbouring village of Rawatgaon, the stories were similar.

In a makeshift tent, neighbours grieve for a mother-son duo, whose family are undergoing treatment at a hospital in Bheri. Framed photographs of Khiuri Rawat (70) and her son Kali Bahadur Rawat (40) are kept. At least three of her family members survived.

“Their family is away, so we are mourning for them. It is necessary for the peace of the soul,” said Prakash Rawat, a farmer.

In the interiors of Kolchour village, locals complain that aid has not yet reached them. “People supplying aid are delivering it to the villages and areas that are connected with roads, but here, no aid has reached,” says Bishnu Vikas, who had come to Nepal from Chandigarh to celebrate Diwali.

“Thankfully, I did not sleep in the house on that fateful night. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad that I survived. But I was lucky. Many weren’t. I have lost so many people I grew up with,” said Bishnu (35), a homemaker who lives in Chandigarh.

She left her children, aged five and eight, at their home back in Chandigarh.

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“It is good they were not here,” she said. “They may not have returned after seeing what I am seeing”.

Sri Jung, a 23-year-old student, had a similar story. “We have been left here to fend for ourselves,” he said. “We are sleeping in tents because someone said that another earthquake is likely to come within five days. No relief has reached here, since one has to walk uphill,” he added.

However, authorities claim relief material is reaching the remote corners of Nepal. Harish Chandra Sharma, Assistant Chief District Officer for Jajarkot, in the country’s Karnali Province, said: “We have been working for three days. Things have been difficult, but rescue and relief work is more coordinated this time.”

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