Slice of Life: ‘I fought to get out that tiny door’

'We all had to sit there in the streets. After such a big earthquake, you’re just waiting for the next one, so it’s dangerous to move,' Hannah Markus recalls the Nepal 2015 earthquake

'We all had to sit there in the streets. After such a big earthquake, you’re just waiting for the next one, so it’s dangerous to move,' Hannah Markus recalls the Nepal 2015 earthquake

I was in a tiny café. Everything in Nepal is tiny. So it was a tiny café with lots of people inside, maybe 40 or 50 people. And there was one tiny door. That was the only exit.

So when the earthquake hit, all of us in this tiny café wanted to get out of that door at the same time. People completely panicked.

It was almost like a stampede; people were falling on the floor. The only thing you have in mind is that you want to get out of that little door.

I struggled very much to get out, because you have to get out. You can’t be inside because buildings collapse.

I finally got out. I fought for my way out of that door. The earthquake shakes so intensely that it is very difficult to walk. Everything shakes, so you have to crawl, basically.

Outside I just sat in the street. I could see buildings just crumbling to nothing. The streetlights, they looked like they were jelly — swaying back and forth.

We all had to sit there in the streets. After such a big earthquake, you’re just waiting for the next one, so it’s dangerous to move.

One of the things that I remember most clearly was the panic in people’s faces, and the screams.

A lot of people died in the earthquake, nearly 9 000. Someone got a call and you understood that this call was about the fact that someone that they loved had died. And that scream, I will never forget it. You understood automatically what it was about. — Hannah Markus, as told to Sarah Smit. Markus is an intern at the United Nations Population Fund in Johannesburg. She was working at the Norwegian embassy in Nepal when the 2015 earthquakes hit

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit both subs and writes for the Mail & Guardian. She joined the M&G after completing her master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Cape Town. She is interested in the literature of the contemporary black diaspora and its intersection with queer aesthetics of solidarity. Her recent work considers the connections between South African literary history and literature from the rest of the Continent. Read more from Sarah Smit

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