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Fon d'parikulur - 15


16:53, as the clocks registered it– what people were working had left or had begun to think about leaving. But then came the earthquake. In a land of many earthquakes, this was The. Many people called it “Goudu Goudu” - because of the shaking of the buildings – and whispered that it was someone in the US that wanted to destroy this land. Even as they tripped other thought dark things.

Seconds to react: and then the walls and floor come. A few seconds where light debris falls and then all is chaos. If you are in a building, you have roughly half a minute to get out – otherwise your chances will be determined by Bondye – and they will not be good. Everything about the earthquake goes to extremes, and very few people have experienced an earthquake quite like this. But in the capital they knew it was an earthquake, on like many places which would at first shrug there shoulders. They knew in their bones, in their belly, in the windpipe, that it was up from the earth. The place where demons live, the place where the supreme creator plays a vast joke on man. On one moment, it is man's chaotic but orderly world. In the next moment, it is pure destruction.

People running through the streets, most of them with black jeans and colorful T-shirts, without a name on them. The balls of play are, dropped. The children run scattered and mothers look for them.

In the official buildings, all the guards run out. But it is in the poorest sections of town where the damage hits hardest – suddenly there are streams of water from every crack in a house. Suddenly you realize that the mice and rats left just a half a minute before – and they had a reason to do so. People were pushing into doors as quickly as possible, because they knew that very soon the doors would be piles of junk to hinder their progress. Only the people who have not experienced it – those foreigners who have not felt it – stand around and gaze at the buildings. Everyone else is a flurry of motion, intent on getting outside as quickly as possible.

Two minutes, the shock is over. Then the torturous process of finding a way out begins, often by throwing out everything that is in your way and sticking a hand out and crying for some form of help. That is if there is anyone who can help, but often there are only people running away or who are in need of help themselves.

Help is the recovery refrain. M'aidez. M'aidez. Which is why Mayday is the word for help over the radio.

Cadence of a language, whether it is called a dialect, a kreyol, or a tongue that defines the way it is spoken. Whether it is understandable or not to anyone outside – Cockney, Pasisian, or the differences between Mandarin and the dialect of Beijing. Each one has their indefinable sense of being spoken well. But in the midst of pain, the cadence descends to a guttural drawl – and eventually almost all languages become the same – with only variance in the ways that they interact in the voice. So it was with an earthquake – all of the languages condensed into a wale of pain. Pain that has a first-person, 2nd person, and 3rd plural. I am in pain, you are in pain, the world is in pain.

Groping out the sides of buildings comes white for the T-shirts, and black for the skin. With tiny beads of white for the eyes. Clawing. Groping, until they fade out to whispers. And then silence. Never to be heard from that person again.

Entire town as capital was correct in a sacrosanct correction – is everyone realized that man was not always in charge here. There was still nature to be reckoned with. And nature was angry, or so it appeared to the inhabitants. A Rumble of white cast over Port-au-Prince, enveloping everything – from government buildings to blocks where the poor lived. From industry, shipping, and the few shops which made actual things. It was white because everything was made of concrete and plaster, and most things of any size were white before paint was mixed in. and the change hung over everything after the quaking was done.

How many died on that day? If it was an accident, one injury can be managed, and survived. 10 injuries needed to be triaged. But 300,000 just had to be aghast, with burial creeping into the consciousness - a source of employment which was not to be discussed – merely done. The story of a few people, is given over to an epic, an epic of mass destruction. No movie captures the scope – because in reality nature has its own pause and rise – which is different from the pause and rise of a person, or different from a group of people. Nature does not have feelings.

It was gone, and the stories that were being told started again. But started with an ellipse.
The signal mark of destruction - buildings, cars, cats, and people. Especially people. Important people – such as the Archbishop of Port-au-Princes. And political figures such as the leader of the opposition. There were many who would be known only to those who survived. Some would not be remembered by anyone because entire families had perished from the earthquake, or the aftermath. Fortunately there was no power in much of the afflicted areas – there was no fire that took hold.

That which happened before, no longer picked up – it was a different place entirely, with screams and moans, sigh of relief.  

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