It has been three days after the earthquake and every now and then, we are still experiencing aftershocks. In plain language, I haven't slept well in the last three days. How could I when my apartment sways with each and every jolt? It is as if it's practicing its dance routine for the next episode of Fox TV show "So You Think You Can Dance."
When the earthquake hit, I really thought it was the end (not wanting to sound melodramatic but I really thought it was). I quietly said a prayer to the Almighty as I watched the electric poles sway to the music Mother Nature is playing. Maybe it was after the third shake that I found myself right in front of the nearest station to my house. Amidst all that chaos, I still had the sense to grab my coat, wallet, some food and water, most importantly my passport. The idea that I need to withdraw some money made me run all the way in less than 3 minutes (which was surprising because it usually takes me 5 minutes to run that distance when I am trying to catch the morning train... the wonders of adrenaline!).
As I was about to insert my ATM card, the ground shook once more. The Japanese man outside the convenience store knocked on the glass wall and shouted for everyone to get out. I did. When I surveyed the area, I saw that a lot of people were gathered near the big open space in front of the train tracks. As I copied what the Japanese women (I sat and stood up when they did), I realized they were watching something calmly. When I looked up, I saw to my horror that there were two huge cranes dancing the tango on top of an ongoing condominium or building construction. Yikes! All we could do was stare with mouth wide open and hope this sight doesn't turn into a nightmare.
The feeling of helplessness really sank in when I couldn't call anyone using my smartphone. However, amidst all the chaos of the earthquake, aftershocks and radiation, one thing really proved its usefulness... Social media. The moment I realized that the Internet can still be accessed, I posted a message in my Facebook account this simple status, "that scared me big time." Simple and direct yet my words shouted everything I couldn't say at that time. From then on, family members and friends across the globe knew that I was safe and the messages started to pour in. They were all concerned especially when CNN showed some footages about the tsunami. According to my mother, some of our relatives and friends called our house to check up on my well-being. At that moment, my heart overflowed with gratitude.
I stayed in the open space until I could tolerate the biting cold. After an hour or so, I went back to my apartment and turned on the TV. That was when the gravity of the situation hit me. Then, I realized that I don't have the right to complain. The images and videos being shown on TV were heart-wrenching. I cannot put into words what I felt at that time when I saw the wave crashing down on the houses and engulfing everything in its path.
What happened last Friday is a very humbling experience. In a country that has been preparing for such event for several years, Mother Nature once again showed us that no amount of technology and artificial intelligence can outsmart her or even exactly predict what is about to come. However, I believe that the spirit of all the people in Japan will prevail.