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Musings of a Resilient Aunty

by Aiden

Dolly Koghar reflects on humanity’s inner strength

Finally, we are bidding adieu and good riddance to 2020; a paradoxical year where so much has happened and yet nothing has moved. It’ll go down in history as a benchmark; a cut-off between the world before and the world after COVID-19. Although the virus took centre stage, something bigger and much more sinister was transpiring. It was as if our planet had been mysteriously sucked into a wormhole, warping and distorting the dimensions, time, and space of our presumed reality. Everything felt dreamlike and surreal – like waking up from a drug-induced coma. We couldn’t grasp the where, the how, and the why of what happened, what’s currently happening, or what will happen. Even the wisest of the wisest were caught o guard and unprepared. So, they locked down borders and countries; we got locked in our own homes; locked out of each other’s lives; our businesses and entertainment completely locked up (until now).

Another time the world came to a standstill, at least for me and my youngest daughter (hubby dear, as usual, was absent), was the fateful day of the Great Hanshin Earthquake on 17th January of 1995. Earthquakes are a natural and frequent occurrence in any part of Japan, but this was like no other.

It took over 6,000 lives and 25 years on, countless are still homeless. The loss could have been unimaginably worse had the earthquake occurred any later than 5.46.53am. The Shinkansen train’s first run was scheduled for 6am; about the time when most housewives, including me, would have turned on our piped gas stoves to prepare obento. The highways that were left snapped like twigs were still relatively empty. The early hour also meant that downtown Sannomiya was still deserted, which in the aftermath looked like Godzilla had stomped by. That week experienced a few thousand tremors with minor ones continuing for more than a year. Lives and livelihoods were wrecked; Kobe was flattened; fires raged; electricity, water and gas, ceased.

Unsuspectingly, we both were snuggled up and fast asleep that cold winter morning. Suddenly I felt woozy, and then an inexpressible, violent, and incomprehensible trembling and swaying started. But what still awakens me in a cold sweat is the inerasable memory of the unearthly, guttural groaning and creaking emanating from within Mother Earth’s innermost core. Almost demonic!

Despite the 6.9 intensity, our home miraculously survived, intact, with the added boon of electricity.
So, for the next few days, it became a haven for manyfriends. We su ced on simple meals cooked in the ricecooker, like pillaf. We slept huddled in the spacious living

room, trembling and scared despite the blessed heaters. Eventually, with the fast-exhausting food and watersupply, no amenities, and no water to ush, we decided tobrave a drive to the Kansai Airport in Osaka. Luckily, our passports were at home and the airport was functioning.The 12 hours’ drive took us past attened buildings,shattered roads, people walking around zombie-like and a gas depot on fire!

Kobe will never be the same again. However, we homosapiens, are a hard species, not only did we
survive the Great Earthquake, but we are capable of surviving even worse calamities and upheavals. This time, too, we’ll tap into our inherent strength and adapt to the needs of the hour and come out even tougher and sturdier than ever.

As 2021 rounds the corner, we hope it’s nearing the end of this dark tunnel, but we’re also aware that there’s no going back to the familiar world of yesteryear, and neither is there any use saying, “I wish it was…”, because it is what it is, for now. 

John Lennon mused, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” We’ll pick ourselves up, dare to fall in love, build castles in the air, dream big, and think into the far, unforeseeable future, for whatever it’s worth!

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