Anand Mandal, who ran a car workshop in Kathmandu, chose to stay hungry for 48 hours after the devastating earthquake on Saturday, despite food in his home, a short distance away, as he feared another tremor while he was indoors.
Mandal, who camped in an open field, told IANS that he feared that the few steps to the house which he could see from a distance might lead him to the fatality he had barely escaped.
“Even if I had the means to cook something at home, I was scared to return home that I had just seen swaying a few hours back. What if the earthquake hit again,” Mandal wondered on arriving in Delhi.
“When I was rescued on April 27, I had two packs of biscuits and a cup of tea. It was only after I arrived in Delhi that I had proper food in two days,” he added.
Among the 5,400 Indians that had been rescued from the quake-battered Nepal till Monday, this 24-year-old car garage owner returned home on the insistence of his parents in West Bengal’s Siliguri.
Saturday’s earthquake and its aftershocks in Nepal have left at least 4,347 people dead and 6,313 injured. The death toll was likely to rise to 10,000, fears Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
Minutes after the quake, what Mandal witnessed was total chaos with buildings reduced to rubble and dead bodies strewn around.
“What I saw around me is not a sweet memory. I did not dare to go out in the neighbourhood to see what was happening. I stayed put in the open field due to the fear of recurring aftershocks,” said Mandal, who attempted to forget the horrors.
Mandal, his elder brother and co-workers spent time in the open and using the headlights of the cars parked in his garage in the night.
“The only means of communication and source of information was the internet on my mobile phone. And the Nepalese government was also making announcements about the rescue operations,” he said.
Mandal said it was not easy to leave behind all that he achieved after years of hardships and tough labour in the last 13 years in Nepal.
“There are 40 cars in my garage right now. They must be fixed. Otherwise my customers would suffer. But, perhaps, there are no customers anymore,” said Mandal, whose garage sustained a few cracks.
“But I want to return to Kathmandu to take stock of the loss. I just gave some money to my workers, enough for their immediate survival and left for India abruptly,” he said pensively.
As Mandal prepared to board the train for Siliguri, his ticket arranged by the Banga Bhawan here, he said: “My parents continued to cry for two days until they heard the news that I was in India.”
His parents and two sisters in Siliguri await the arrival of Mandal and his elder brother.