I like to begin my day with a coffee. Hmmm – the aroma, that first scalding sip. What makes the moment better is a ringing phone when the tingle in my fingers as I reach for it informs me it’s Tendi at the other end. I don’t need call display. I answer with my limited Nepali.
Today our conversation includes him laughing at himself because he’d slept right through several “shakings in the night.” Tendi and his children have moved back into their Kathmandu apartment. Yesterday his wife Lhamu returned to Khamding. The road was open most of the way. She “only” had to walk with all her supplies brought back from the city for the last three hours. Their cow, dog and home are fine. There is some damage to their home but Tendi will be able to fix it when he returns to the village next week. Some village buildings sustained limited damage, others are uninhabitable. Before returning home he needs to wait until school reopens and he can get Phulu and Nima settled back into the school hostel. Tsheri will continue living at the apartment while attending his post secondary classes.
Normalcy returns. Or does it? Tendi had a trek booked for this past week. It is obviously cancelled. But he had bought tickets for the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. He awaits his refund. It has yet to come and he’ll be charged a cancellation fee. Yet he gets no compensation from the would be trekkers. And so it goes.
He wonders if trekkers will return in October. And then he asks me if I remember Lang Tang village. Of course I do but it is only a memory now. The entire village is completely gone, buried. Not a trace. Just a massive landslide cutting a swath across the once pretty landscape. Not even a blade of grass remains.
I can’t imagine the roller coaster of emotions, he’s happy his cow is fine, but saddened that an entire village is completely wiped away. With it people he knows well. He’s alive, as is all his family, but he has no current means of supporting them. What toll these conflicts?
An e-mail from Binod tells me of banks and shops reopening and people who still have homes and apartments slowly moving back into them. Shopping for food, cooking, visiting amongst the heaps of rubble that litter the nation. Beneath which may be the 1000s who remain missing – dead.
Staggering under a collective weight of the task ahead to rebuild a nation; people are getting up and carrying on, determined, with dignity, and with gratitude for the help they are recieving.