Two months ago, I sat on the steps of an old temple in Durbar Square. I watched the tuk-tuks rumble back and forth over the ancient stone, the little kids take great leaps off the brick steps. In the distance: towers, markets, storefronts of weathered wood and crumbling concrete. Two months later, that old temple is no more. Last week the ground rumbled back and forth under the ancient stone and took the temple with it: the temple, the towers, the little storefronts and the lives of so, so many. Thousands, they say; maybe tens of thousands.
I see photographs of the wreckage and it's all recognizable: I know that place; I know that street. I see photographs of the wreckage and it's all unrecognizable: That's not the way it's supposed to look. There's sadness in the lost buildings—history wiped clean, ancient treasures razed in an instant—but it's the people I mourn for most, the warm, wonderful masses of Kathmandu. I see photographs of the wreckage and there's closure: Garud has fallen, Basantapur is damaged, Dharahara is no more. But not so for the people: I know nothing of the fates of our lovely innkeepers just meters from the square, nothing of the sweet old couple who sold me tea leaves, nor the little children who showed us our first stupa, the taxi drivers who shuttled us to Boudhanath, the man whom I bought momos from each evening. I don't know if they're okay, and I never will.
The tragedy in Kathmandu isn't about me—millions were affected, and those I never knew suffered just as much as though I did. My grief does little for any of them, but it's there nonetheless: aching, searing. I don't believe in prayers, but I hope so strongly they're all okay. I don't believe in prayers, but I hope with all my might that those prayer flags will fly again, beautiful banners of red and blue and yellow and green and white billowing proudly over every last street and stupa in Nepal.
Thoughts, love, and well wishes to all those affected in Bhārata.
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