It was sheer chance that I was away that night. I had gone to Pauri to buy my school books. I stayed the night at my uncle’s house. We felt the tremors. We ran out into the open. Again and again the tremors came. We spent the entire night outside. Pauri lived through the night. Molthi did not.

     For the living, the nightmare began at daybreak when the news trickled in of the large-scale devastation. There were dozens of landslides. Huge boulders thrown haphazardly across motorable tracks and roads. Precious time was spent in blasting the rocks and clearing the way for Army rescue teams. It was all of four days before help arrived for Molthi.

     I was among the first to reach the village. My uncle accompanied me. We feared the worst, but nothing had prepared us for what we saw. Every single house, every wall, every roof had been flattened. Stone, rubble and dust were all that remained. Our house was a two-storeyed stone building with a slate roof. My great grandfather had built the house. We were a small family. My father had died after an illness, just fourteen months ago. My mother took care of us. We were three children. I was the oldest. My brother Nilu was ten. Bhuli, my two-year-old sister, was the baby of the family. My grandmother lived with us.
It was nothing other than his luck that Brij had not been in his village that night. He had gone to Pauri, a nearby place to buy his school books and he had stayed overnight in his uncle's house. They felt the tremors in Pauri also, and they ran outside their homes. Tremors were repetitive that night and they were forced to stay outside the house the whole night. Pauri village managed to sustain the earthquake, but Molthi did not.
D Earthquake.jpg
It is better to stay out of buildings during an earthquake - Brij stayed out the whole night!
For those who lived that night, the next day was a scary dream. When the sun rose, the news of the vast destruction reached them. Huge rocks from mountain cliffs had collapsed down on the houses, tracks and roads.
Landslides - a collapse of a mass of earth or rock from a mountain or cliff!
A lot of time was spent in bombing the rocks to clear the way for the Army rescue team to remove the debris and save precious lives. It took four days for the Army to reach Molthi to help clear the debris.
Brij said he was among the first few people to reach his village, with his uncle. They knew about the massive destruction, but they were not prepared to handle what they saw. Each wall of every house, every roof was brought down by the earthquake. The house that his great grandfather had built was now mere stones and dust. Their home was built of stone and had two floors, with a slate roof. Brij's father had died due to an illness just fourteen months back. So his mother took care of him (thirteen years old during the incident), his small brother Nilu (ten years old), and their little sister Bhuli (two years old). He added that his grandmother also lived with them.
Meanings of difficult words:
sheernothing other than
landslidea collapse of a mass of earth or rock from a mountain or cliff
boulderslarge rocks
haphazardlyin a rough manner
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). Term-2 English Standard-9. Earthquake - Mr. M.S. Mahadevan (pp. 154-160). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.