At Nepal’s Sirsia village, 100 km south of Kathmandu, three-year-old Erika Thapa can’t wait to get inside her house. “She hasn’t played with her dolls since we left home after the earthquake and she is really worried about their safety,” laughs her grandfather Dipak Thapa. The 56-year-old, who runs a grocery shop in the village close to the India-Nepal border at Bihar’s Raxaul, had moved his family out and spent the last six days with relatives in India. “But how long can we continue to be afraid?” He asks. “Today we have returned. I must reopen my store,” he says as his granddaughter rushes to the door and shakes the lock impatiently.
In the villages and towns stretching along the India-Nepal border, the focus, a week after the earthquake, is on “getting back to normal”. And just as all were helpless before what locals term “the wrath of nature”, many recovery plans are afoot.
The Dhungania family of Alao village in Nepal, which had been camping out on their front yard, has decided to place their trust in god and is praying to the family deity with renewed fervour. After the chaotic days of the immediate aftermath, Devkeli Devi and her sister-in-law Parua Devi of Sirsia village took the lead in rebuilding their crumbled mud hut and reconstructing the thatched roof which had blown away in the thunderstorm after the earthquake. Others, like 65-year-old Imam Dewan, whose son is missing since the quake, is too traumatised to start thinking of rebuilding his life just yet and is travelling from one relief camp to another in India and Nepal in his search.
Every quake-hit family is dealing with the crisis in their own way, but significantly, residents of border districts on both the Indian and Nepali sides are also thinking of ‘preventive...