A few months ago, the people of Sylhet were constantly hearing about announcements regarding Covid-19 safety regulations, but now the story has changed. The microphones and megaphones now warn us about earthquakes. They tell us to be aware and not to panic when they happen. Here, the frequent earthquakes have shaken the people so drastically that it's becoming difficult to focus on anything else, and the fear is all engulfing.
These earthquakes feel different too. Sometimes it feels like a single push and then at other times, it is like a pendulum movement that stays a bit longer. I have the misfortune of being a resident of a high-rise building, which makes tremors even more scary. Living on the 8th floor of a 16-storey building, I have heard my neighbors screaming in fear quite a lot in the recent past and I can understand why.
People are scared to stay inside their homes. When a tremor is felt, some of them decide to stand under the beams and others rush to leave the building using stairs, which is dangerous in its own way. People fall down sometimes. It causes injuries. The fear of these frequent earthquakes has made some people decide to temporarily stay at a friend's or relative's house, which are often one storeyed buildings and far away from the city.
They are losing sleep too. Waking up to an earthquake is an exceptionally terrifying experience. We are always told to crawl under tables during earthquakes, but when you encounter earthquakes that frequently, it's difficult at that moment to make a fast decision. Four to fivThe microphones and megaphones now warn us about earthquakes.e earthquakes a day are starting to make people lose their peace of mind.
In Sylhet, some buildings are being marked as risky. The misconceptions are also spreading with the earthquakes. People are struggling with what to believe and what to ignore. Even if we ignore the news, a sort of terror surrounds us. Some say that these are not earthquakes at all, but exploding mines. In social media, people are sharing posts that say a huge earthquake will come very soon, that Sylhet will be destroyed by the earthquakes, that the doomsday is very near.
Their mental health is being affected as frequent shakes are messing with their minds; people are starting to think everything around them is constantly shaking and will fall anytime. Day-to-day activities like taking a bath have become a fear-inducing experience as the tremors could start at any time.
However, in situations like this, calmness is paramount. People must avoid running around the house. To confirm if there indeed is an earthquake, one can observe a water container to see whether the water is moving or not. The same can be observed with glass windows. Once a tremor is felt, the stove should be turned off. If you are inside, then try to cover your head and neck with your arms, stay under a desk, and keep yourself away from the furniture that might fall on you. Stay away from any sort of glass, shelves, and windows. If you are outside, go to an open area away from buildings.
No one knows what will come next, but when it comes to earthquakes, panic is as much of an enemy as the quakes are themselves. If we stay calm and stick together, if precautions are taken, this too shall pass.
The writer is a student of English at Metropolitan University, Sylhet.