Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rebuilding Sikkim Again

A rainbow brings cheer to Sikkimese amid pain and sorrow

On Friday morning, the road was cleared up to Toong from Mangan, headquarters of North Sikkim district. Five days after the massive earthquake that struck the region, it came as a big relief to local residents as well as the Army personnel who were engaged in the gargantuan task of clearing the roads.

From Toong, the road bifurcates towards two quake-ravaged destinations, Shipgyre and Chunghthang.

“The real fight starts from here though. What we have done so far will be nothing in comparison to the challenge that lies ahead,” Sanjay Sharma, Commanding Officer of 52 Engineer Regiment of the Army asserted.

The fresh jolt of earthquake late on Thursday has left life here further vulnerable. Just when the residents of North Sikkim district were about to emerge from last Sunday's nightmare to start life afresh, the initiative got paused once again.

Ashok Subba was searching for remnants of his makeshift home at Toong amid rubbles. The house was flattened under tonnes of debris that rolled down the mountain side during the earthquake. One of his relatives was injured.

He suddenly found a packet full of photographs in the wreckage and began showing pictures of his injured relative.

Two girls, Dali Sherpa and Nagpa Diki, were busy loading their belongings on a lorry to shift to a safer place. Dali's mother, Sonu, was waiting for them in Voong Basti under Naga gram panchayat. They have shifted to a rented house here. Sonu was silent throughout. Grief visible in her eyes, she went about making their new home liveable.

Dali, a Class X student, was injured in a massive landslide and still feels pain at the back of her head. Her school closed down after the quake and none knows when it will reopen.

People from Chunghthang, Lachen, Paigong and Lachung continue trekking towards Mangan, braving the treacherous mountain and forest paths to reach to safer places.

Shering, who trekked down from Chunghthang to Toong this morning, said that the Teesta Urja project tunnel is in good shape and he had reached Chungthang by walking through the tunnel.

He went to Chunghthang on Thursday to find his friend who has not communicated since last Sunday.

It started raining while returning to Mangan from Toong. When the rains stopped, a middle-aged woman's happy voice drew my attention. She was calling her son to show the rainbow that had appeared on the horizon.

Maybe it was the first time that a rainbow was visible in North Sikkim after the quake hit the district as it immediately led people to forget all their fear and pain experienced over the past few days and become delighted.

And, needless to say that nature only can do it!

(The Hindu)

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