DAY: 8TH SEP, 2014
It’s been 3 days for us since we ate anything except for a handful of rice if that counts. The morning started with a hustle, people were running here and there when one of my friend came to me and kicked me, “DON’T YOU WANT TO TALK TO YOUR FAMILY? ”, he said. I looked at my phone which was switched off from last 3 days with excitement and there was still no sign of signal. I abused him really bad for making such idiotic joke that time. He said, “NOT HERE”. “THEN WHERE! , I asked angrily. He said “IN THE ATTIC !”, the whole college is there, “SOMEONE GOT SOME NETWORK IN AIRCEL IN THE ATTIC AND EVERYONE IS CLINGING FROM THE WINDOW TO TAKE TO THEIR FAMILY”. I got up, tried to find my slipper, which was the only piece of footwear I had that time. I ran barefoot towards the college main building and there were more than 1000 students already struggling to get to talk to their parents ,I jumped in and waited for my turn which was a long wait but I finally reached and there was one senior of mine who had the phone with balance and he told me to give him my number and so I did, he dialed my number and told me the scripted line everyone was told to say. My mom picked up & I said “HI ! ”, she heard my voice after 3 days in that situation, her reaction was predictable.
She was so fumbled and excited, it showed when she was talking constantly, she had so much to say and ask but I had only one scripted line, and I said “I AM ALIVE AND FINE WITH ALL THE STUDENTS INSIDE THE COLLEGE AND WE ARE SAFE JUST TRANSFER SOME MONEY IN MY ACCOUNT APPROX 10 K AND DON’T NEED TO WORRY OK ”, she tried to ask hundreds of questions and I wanted to answer them all but we didn’t had much resources and people were waiting after me for their turn and I hung up. While I was walking towards the DH (class room where I was staying) I thought about everything she might be thinking and everything she wanted to know from the past three days, I had to do something for that.
I returned to DH, borrowed slippers form a friend and took another one of my friend with me. He asked me, “COLLEGE GATE IS ALREADY FLOODED, WHERE ARE WE GOING?”, and I said “THROUGH IT, OUTSIDE THE COLLEGE”. We swam and walked through the waist level water and reached the road outside. I asked him to search for any reported and media and we luckily found one, it was INDIA TV I guess. I asked the reporter to come inside the college and cover all the students in a news report so that their parents can know that they are safe and moreover alive, and he refused because of the flooded entrance. I can’t explain how angry I was but I couldn’t do anything. I asked him to cover me and my friend for an interview and he agreed, I sent a message to all the parents who had their children stuck here in our college to remain calm and that everyone is safe and together and there is nothing to worry about, I gave my number in the interview and requested everyone who might be watching that live coverage to dial on that and give my mother my message. I later came to know from my mom that she received several calls from Mumbai, Noida, U.P and many more places across India who saw me on the news.
We then came to know that the road to Srinagar airport is under water, 30 feet of water and its practically impossible to reach airport, that was one hell of a bad news for us. But someone told that the road to LEH ( Ladakh ) was not affected by the flood. The news pumped tons of adrenaline in my body and finally there was one way out of all the misery but it had its own cost, Ladakh was cold and we had pieces of clothes that were barely covering whole of our body, some had t shirts others were just in shorts. It was going to be a long journey and there was possibility that we won’t be able to make it to Leh alive, that highway is the most dangerous and cold highway in India and one of the most dangerous in the world.
I came back to DH, had several arguments with the people who didn’t want me to risk my life by isolating myself from the herd and hitting the highway. Several groups from college were leaving for ladakh and for me that was the only hope of survival, we didn’t knew when will we get anything to eat or more water to keep us hydrated for more days and ladakh had all of it. I packed my bag with some more people who saw it like I did and left the college. I borrowed slippers from a guy outside, It didn’t fit me well but something is always better than nothing. We searched for a vehicle and finally made a deal with one. It was a vehicle for 13 , we payed him 4 times more per person than the actual cost and got 19 people stuffed in the van. None of us realized that it’s going to be a harsh journey. I still remember one moment, a journalist was there we wrote down our names on a piece of paper and gave it to my friend and the journalist with vehicle number on top of it and told them to notify our parents if our vehicle doesn’t reach leh and declare us dead, I didn’t wanted to die unknowingly and so does others ,that was one hell of a moment.
We had nothing to eat and somewhat 9 bottles of water for 20 of us. And then another problem hit us, all the petrol pumps in Srinagar were under water and we needed lots of fuel for 450km of journey, we found one ahead and the sight was not impressive, there was this 3 kms long line of vehicle waiting for petrol, people swarm up the petrol pump from all sides, abusing loud and throwing stones at military people who were distributing fuel and that was the scene where u realize , everyone wanted to survive and the urge of survival , the hunger, the thirst can make them to do anything. We had no idea whether we will get fuel ahead or not so we waited and waited and waited but the line seemed stuck. We soon realized its of no use, and we decided to stand manually in the line with other people, we had no container for fuel, so we decided to drink some of the water and use the empty bottles, we had no choice, fuel was more valuable to us than water at that time. We stood there in line turn by turn and managed to get some fuel after hours of struggle and abuse. We brushed our teeth in petrol pump bathroom and finally our vehicle managed to make way to petrol pump after hours of struggle. we were still 12-14 liters short to even make up to Kargil and every vehicle was given maximum of 6 liters of petrol, we begged to the army man there and I don’t know what melted his heard maybe it was the hunger and urge on our faces or whatever but her gave us the amount of fuel we needed, for that he had to face riot, a series of abuse and hatred . I still wish I see him someday to thank him for everything he did for us.
Now we had the fuel which was supposed to carry us to Kargil and hope that was meant to carry us to our homes safe and we went on for a tremendously challenging and harsh journey and after some hours of beautiful sight we made our first pit stop, that was SONMARG and finally saw food ………
………….to be continued…………