Day and night meant nothing to Simi anymore – it was all grey, charcoal grey. She had lost track of time but knew hours had passed and still nothing had changed. Lisa was lying in front of her, not sleeping, not unconscious either, but barely moving. The refrigerator was still on Lisa’s legs and on a part of her back. The merciful machine had spilt milk on the ground - that was now uneven and broken, some tomatoes too - five of which were at less than an arm’s distance from where Simi sat, and rest had found solace in the newly built cracks of the floor. The fridge door was detached from the main body, and had a half filled bottle of water and a broken jar of jam. Eggs were broken and were on the floor. The door was peacefully warming up right next to Lisa. Everything else was lost in the dusty, bricked and cemented background.
A million hours ago, or so it seemed to Simi, Simi was fighting with her mom. She thought about her decision that had led her to this situation. Simi had moved to Ahmedabad for her MBA about a year back. Terrified by the chronicles of the IIM A hostels, Lisa and she had chosen a cozy flat for two years. Simi’s mother had called today to wake them up early morning. Hailing from a Punjabi army family, sleeping past sunrise on 26th January was a criminal offense according to Simi’s mother, and she had made sure the two sleepyheads were up on time. It was around 8:40 A.M. when her mother had called again to howl at her for not going to the City Republic Day Parade and that was when the fight had started. Simi tried very hard to remember the last words her mother had said before the call ended abruptly but all she could remember was the rumbling of the concrete land that had drowned those words.
She had lost her balance, had noticed Lisa scream, “The corner now!” and then was being dragged towards the corner - laterally opposite to the fridge and a wall which never held any significance for her. By the time she could voice out her realization to her mother, the cordless in her hand had no tone. Lisa paced towards the fridge to get something – a bottle of water perhaps, and the room was split into 2 already - the other part crumbling under the pressure of the cement sarsens falling from the floors above. The rumbling discordance was then pierced by Lisa’s painful scream. The kitchen cabinet had fallen, which she had managed to dodge with a small cut on her head and was checking something on the ground with a bottle of water in her hand. But the thoughtless Fridge could not hold its ground and fell on her, and with that she reached Simi’s corner, sliding. Simi completely oblivious to the fact that the ground where she was now sitting had tilted and random things in the room where trying to reach her wall which was half its original size now. The door of the open, sliding fridge hit the walls during its short descent and slowed down the refrigerator’s ride but Lisa had lost her bottle, which vanished where some part of the wall used to stand. And it was all silent after that.
“Are you okay?” was what broke Simi’s perplexed trance. She looked at Lisa, who was pinned under the fridge and boulders of someone’s ceiling and wall; she was not sure any more about whose walls had stopped the fridge half way. Lisa had bruises on her arms, a deep cut on her head and she was asking if Simi was alright; it was amusing to Simi.
“You are bleeding.” Lisa said, painfully.
“So are you” Simi replied, and the girls started giggling. Not happy chuckles, but that is all they could think of doing – chuckle.
“Simi, stop. I can’t laugh anymore. It hurts” Lisa said, pain clearly ringing in her voice.
Simi acknowledged Lisa’s request and embraced silence once again. She realized the crumbling building had not spared her completely, as she thought a couple of minutes back. She could feel her damp hair, although it was not perspiration but blood. Her arms and face were also etched by the falling rubble. But all she could wonder about was how one minute of the earthquake had destroyed their house of one year, beyond recognition.
The one minute was the only time she remembered now. Hours had gone by, her stomach was rumbling, but the terror of the minute still gripped Simi and Lisa’s condition had numbed her completely.