16:53, as the clocks registered it– what people were working had left or had begun to think about leaving. But then came the earthquake. In a land of many earthquakes, this was The. Many people called it “Goudu Goudu” - because of the shaking of the buildings – and whispered that it was someone in the US that wanted to destroy this land. Even as they tripped other thought dark things.
Seconds to react: and then the walls and floor come. A few seconds where light debris falls and then all is chaos. If you are in a building, you have roughly half a minute to get out – otherwise your chances will be determined by Bondye – and they will not be good. Everything about the earthquake goes to extremes, and very few people have experienced an earthquake quite like this. But in the capital they knew it was an earthquake, on like many places which would at first shrug there shoulders. They knew in their bones, in their belly, in the windpipe, that it was up from the earth. The place where demons live, the place where the supreme creator plays a vast joke on man. On one moment, it is man's chaotic but orderly world. In the next moment, it is pure destruction.
People running through the streets, most of them with black jeans and colorful T-shirts, without a name on them. The balls of play are, dropped. The children run scattered and mothers look for them. In the official buildings, all the guards run out. But it is in the poorest sections of town where the damage hits hardest – suddenly there are streams of water from every crack in a house. Suddenly you realize that the mice and rats left just a half a minute before – and they had a reason to do so. People were pushing into doors as quickly as possible, because they knew that very soon the doors would be piles of junk to hinder their progress. Only the people who have not experienced it – those foreigners who have not felt it – stand around and gaze at the buildings. Everyone else is a flurry of motion, intent on getting outside as quickly as possible.
Two minutes, the shock is over. Then the torturous process of finding a way out begins, often by throwing out everything that is in your way and sticking a hand out and crying for some form of help. That is if there is anyone who can help, but often there are only people running away or who are in need of help themselves.
Help is the recovery refrain. M'aidez. M'aidez. Which is why Mayday is the word for help over the radio.
Cadence of a language, whether it is called a dialect, a kreyol, or a tongue that defines the way it is spoken. Whether it is understandable or not to anyone outside – Cockney, Pasisian, or the differences between Mandarin and the dialect of Beijing. Each one has their indefinable sense of being spoken well. But in the midst of pain, the cadence descends to a guttural drawl – and eventually almost all languages become the same – with only variance in the ways that they interact in the voice. So it was with an earthquake – all of the languages condensed into a wale of pain. Pain that has a first-person, 2nd person, and 3rd plural. I am in pain, you are in pain, the world is in pain.
Groping out the sides of buildings comes white for the T-shirts, and black for the skin. With tiny beads of white for the eyes. Clawing. Groping, until they fade out to whispers. And then silence. Never to be heard from that person again.
Entire town as capital was correct in a sacrosanct correction – is everyone realized that man was not always in charge here. There was still nature to be reckoned with. And nature was angry, or so it appeared to the inhabitants. A Rumble of white cast over Port-au-Prince, enveloping everything – from government buildings to blocks where the poor lived. From industry, shipping, and the few shops which made actual things. It was white because everything was made of concrete and plaster, and most things of any size were white before paint was mixed in. and the change hung over everything after the quaking was done.
How many died on that day? If it was an accident, one injury can be managed, and survived. 10 injuries needed to be triaged. But 300,000 just had to be aghast, with burial creeping into the consciousness - a source of employment which was not to be discussed – merely done. The story of a few people, is given over to an epic, an epic of mass destruction. No movie captures the scope – because in reality nature has its own pause and rise – which is different from the pause and rise of a person, or different from a group of people. Nature does not have feelings.
It was gone, and the stories that were being told started again. But started with an ellipse...
The signal mark of destruction - buildings, cars, cats, and people. Especially people. Important people – such as the Archbishop of Port-au-Princes. And political figures such as the leader of the opposition. There were many who would be known only to those who survived. Some would not be remembered by anyone because entire families had perished from the earthquake, or the aftermath. Fortunately there was no power in much of the afflicted areas – there was no fire that took hold.
That which happened before, no longer picked up – it was a different place entirely, with screams and moans, sigh of relief.
In a room, on a floor, in a building, which the doctor worked in, there was commotion, and then devotion, both to Mon Dieu, and other darker powers. The doors became exhilaratedly crammed - as every person became a body which had only one instinct - to survive, to move out of a room - and on to the street. But this required the rush of people into the corridors. They were banging into both the walls and each other, crying out for air, crying for Manman nou – Either to rescue, or 2 and the suffering which had torn the brink of day from brink of day
But in the room, there were 2 people talking, when the shaking of the earth started. Each of them knew that the 1st thing to do was to look around and make sure that nothing was quite fall upon them. There was terror on their faces – bien sur - but in each of their minds was a kind of calm that came from an inner reserve - which came from a life which does that it may end in a will of the wisp. What the doctor noticed, was that the UN diplomat had the vestiges of calm beginning to come over his face. That meant that the UN diplomat had been in these situations before - and was struggling to take control of his mind, his brain, is body. While every one else - or nearly so - was panicking, wailing, and running - the UN diplomat was not doing any of those things. He did not yet have control, but it was coming.
The doctor looked inside himself, and the same process - more slowly - was taking place. The mind acts rationally with a such people - diplomat and doctor - and in that shorts space of time when the earthquake bloomed into full flower - a realization came. Each new the other one was different from almost all of the other people. Outside, in the corridor, there were people trying to rush out - to get to safety, to get somewhere anywhere everywhere nowhere. Inside the new that such an old building had survived catastrophes before, and would probably do so again. In any event, rushing to be part of the throng would not help anyone.
So while plaster fell from the ceiling, and file cabinets were flown to the floor - the 2 men were relatively unheard - a large chunk of plaster had hit the UN diplomat, but it left only a scratch.
Circumstances were such, that the only thing they really wish to talk about could not be set. Cholera was known about, from before the beginning. Eventually someone would contract it and spread it over all of the developments - until a blood test found that out. This could not be talked about, because the UN diplomat would not answer precisely. They were admitted into a secret society, whose membership could not say what was the only thing that kept them in business.
Oh how he wished, like a player in Sophocles, to stretch forth upon the wide stage, and deliver a grand soliloquy. But the problem was, that he knew he was not the player who would say this. Instead his mind turn to Jules - because if she were alive, she would be the one to tell individuals, in her way.
“1st we must help the victims, and then find our way to Jules.”
Nod, was all that came from the diplomat. There was the unsettled calling in the Doctor voice – which held a deep whisper, like the echoes of memory of union, which touched – as surely as the must be – by the strains of forgotten hands and distant chords. In his heart Dr Kenold knew the she was not for him, even though he wanted her.
Why, you might ask? Because their minds did not touch, and he knew his body did not appeal.