The freezing rain brought a sharp closure to electronics, and an opening of conversations. Those with OCD and social anxiety were stressed, those outgoing had a party and some remembered to do Dhikr and gain Ibraat from the messages coming from nature.
I had a mixture of feelings, I enjoyed the solitude, the Salah’s, the lack of fear as after every fall of a tree in the crystal forest I told myself “Rabbi rakhey gaa” Allah will care for me. It is his will that will happen.
By designating my safety to my Maker I felt free to do what I needed to. I walked around and took pictures of the crystal forest and thought of the little birds who were pecking at the frozen branches. Sometimes finding insects at the juncture of the fresh break of fallen branches. I saw some birds with wet wings but I did not see a single depressed bird……. We believe that
“ Allah made everyone’s Rizq, (sustenance) the birds go out in the morning with full confidence that they will find their rizq and return in the evening with the same confidence and who vouches for that but Allah?” (Paraphrased from the Quran and Hadith).
And He says:
I got the power back in my house before Shireens so they came over along with some other friends to warm up and get some warm food in them.
At the end of the day everyone departed very happy that they got power back in their homes and they could return to their controlled isolated lives, where they did not have to interact with others under duress.
After washing what seemed like a hundred dishes, the emotional exhaustion from keeping myself uplifted during these three days of the ice storm came crashing onto me. While talking on the phone I fell into a deep sleep without praying isha.
Suddenly I was awakened and through my partial consciousness I felt that I was lying on the ground in a forest and that a huge tree had fallen close but not too close and was falling and bouncing off the earth, one two three and more times like a basket ball and the entire earth on which I was lying down was bumping up and down from the impact.
As I came to full consciousness I was sure that a large tree had fallen on a part of the house away from me and when it did that I had felt that impact and now all was silent and still.
I did wudu and prayed isha, if I was to go to a shelter I wanted to make sure that I had completed the prayers of the day before I am thrust into the public with meager amenities.
After Salah I walked around and the house was intact. I looked around outside and the huge trees were still standing around the house silent sentinels of what had happened.
What happened I wondered? A memory stealthily wriggled in my consciousness of an event very similar to this many years ago. Tonight this event had happened in a small southern town and other one from my past had been on the other side of the world, and on both occasions Alhamdulillah I had been spared the agonies of the aftermath.
My memory jogged me into clarity of an event many years ago………
The World Federation Conference that I was supposed to chair had been cancelled due to an impending earthquake and then it was uncancelled. I was going and I was taking Tariq with me. In my international travel to many countries, I alternated the kids, taking them with me till they started high school and could not go. Tariq had been to several of them with me.
We arrived in Taipei after crossing the International Date Line and after what seemed like umpteen hours on the plane. We were received by our Taiwanese hosts and driven in a limousine to an old antique traditional Chinese multistoried Hotel, which at onetime was an emperors home.
Resplendent in it antique but original traditional beauty it did not have the shiny amenities of the characterless chain Hotels we have become used to.
Night fell though Taipei never sleeps. The sky is always lit up so much so that even though the hotel was on top of a hill, I had to close the curtains to shut out the electronic glare in the night sky.
Tariq and I were both asleep in this gorgeously spacious suite given to us by our very gracious hosts. I woke up to the sound of chimes, I soon realized that the chimes were not in my dream, but that the chandelier in the sitting room was shaking and making the tinkling noise. The bed was heaving, the floor was crooked, I got up wondering what I can wear over my nightgown to go out into the night and where? I went to my suitcase it was locked, I woke up Tariq, “we have to go out it is an emergency”. He was too sleepy to ask questions and half sleepwalking he allowed me to lead him onto the stairwell. I had read somewhere that the arch of the stair well is safe in falling buildings. We were on the third floor and walked down to the first.
As we stood there the trembling of the 100-year-old building stopped and both of us exhausted from the long flight went back to bed, putting us in the hands of Allah.
Unbeknownst to us we had both experienced our first earthquake.
In the morning I found out that all the delegates had left the hotel at night and stood outside on the grounds while the hotel trembled to the tune of the earth under it.
I remember thinking about what to do watching the floor tilt and the chandelier clink. I recalled that when the earth heaves and wants to expel what is on it and in it, there is nowhere to go……..
I thanked Allah for saving Tariq and me from the after math of the earthquake and fell into a deep sleep till the morning came.
Next morning I learned that the tall new buildings in downtown had fallen or cracked.
I stood in the grounds and looked up at the antique Chinese hotel that like an old tough dowager had withstood yet another onslaught on her as Taipei turned another page of history.
That was my first earthquake with Tariq, in my second one I was alone, he had already taken wings to another level of living……..