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Quake, Tsunami and the bicycle
by Jasti Victor
03/24/11
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“The earth trembled,” whispered the eighty year old Mrs. Kuniko Watanabe with a hoarse voice, “It was so horrific that in my entire life time I had not come across such a terrifying earthquake.”

Dipping the spoon into the soup bowl, she drank it carefully so as not to spill, as her hands shook violently. Ocean Plaza gymnasium was the evacuation center which is the biggest shelter at the coastal city of Rikuzentakate at Iwate and was crammed with over six hundred people. Kuniko was able to locate herself in a corner of a corridor and had made walls from cardboard boxes, and her neighbor had marked her territory with layers of blankets and futons.

It’s a remarkably useful instantaneous community that was well organized. Queues for food were meticulously followed and people were careful about taking out their shoes off before stepping on cardboard as they are before entering a home.

Taken to the makeshift clinic which was put up in the former training room Mrs. Kuniko Watanabe trembled because her feet was wet and of the extreme cold. Nurse Tayo Kitamura checked her pulse, blood pressure and for any external signs of injury.

“You are the only one without an injury,” Tayo commented patting her on her back, as she made her way to the pharmacy through the weightlifting equipment and exercise bikes, which have been pushed into one corner.

“And your blood pressure is normal,” continued Tayo, with a smile.

“Keeping myself fit,” said Mrs. Kuniko Watanabe, “It’s an obsession for me.”

Tayo looked at her, and saw a fine physique inside the loose fitting clothes and observed, “So you are a fitness freak.”

“Yes,” replied Kuniko excitedly, “I do all the house work myself. I am eighty and will be celebrating my eighty first birthday this coming July. I cycle a lot. ”

“Cycling?”

“My father’s favorite.”

“Who brought you here?”

“I came alone, cycling, as soon as I heard the tsunami siren.”

“All the way?”

“As I told you, I cycle a lot,” said Mrs. Kuniko proudly, “I cycled hard all the way, without looking back, just like Lot’s family.”

“Lot’s family?” asked Tayo with a frown.

“As in the Bible.”

“You, a Christian?”

“No, but my neighbor is,” said Mrs. Kuniko, “She every time tells me that I should be like Lot, and not be like his wife, who looked back.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Lot is Abraham’s brother,” said Mrs. Kuniko, “And he was warned by God to escape to the hills first thing in the morning with his wife and two daughters, because He said He is going to destroy their city of Sodom. The plan was to cross over the large mountainous range quickly to escape from the burning sulfur which was to rain on that sinful city. God warned them not to look back. But his wife who was way behind them, kept on turning back to look at the city she loved. That delay made her to lay exposed to the burning sulfur long enough to burn her to a pillar of salt.”

Catching her breath, Kuniko continued. “Like lot, I cycled hard as soon as I heard the tsunami siren. I never looked back. Otherwise seeing the thirty feet high wave rushing up towards me, I would have lost valuable time. Or maybe I wouldn’t have had the courage to cycle that hard.”

“All this, you believe?”

“It’s not the question of belief. It’s the question of not looking back, when a devastating force is at work. When you look back, you slow down and loose valuable time and that’s enough for the burning sulfur to turn you to a pillar of salt or a tsunami to drown you.”

Tayo fascinated waited patiently for her complete the story, as this was the first time that she had the opportunity to hear someone talk about an anecdote from the Bible.

“But where is your neighbor? Did she tell all this to you?” asked Tayo.

“She had gone to Christchurch last month to be with her niece, as soon as that city, suffered a quake. We both used to watch lots of Christian DVD’s and CD’s, and that’s how I knew about the Bible and Lot. The story fascinated me.”

“You have completed your soup?” asked Tayo.

“I am now looking forward to having my vegetables.”

Hearing it Nurse Tayo smiled as she said, “No looking back.”

“No looking back,” replied Kuniko with a wide smile.


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