‘E’ for earthquake

durbadhyani

A sultry April afternoon in Siliguri and I was on the veranda of a friend’s house, sipping tea and exchanging pleasantries.

Suddenly the tea table seemed to shift the slightest bit and a sugar spoon clinked against a plate. I looked up at my friend and wondered if her foot had struck the table, maybe while trying to stretch her legs? She stared back with an inscrutable expression and as if reading my mind, said ‘Not me. I think it’s an earthquake.’

The next jolt was stronger. This time my heart shifted inside of me. We got up shakily and ran out to the garden calling to the maid and dog to hurry up, please… leaving cups and plates to clatter to the floor.

We held hands and stood in a circle — my friend, her maid and I — the furry white Apsu in the center — while the ground swayed beneath us. Would it crack open and swallow us up, like in the movies?

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