Earlier this week, April 25 to be exact, marked the passing of one year since the Nepali earthquake. The anniversary was covered a little in the media if you watched carefully, and referenced in the coverage of the more recent earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador. But, it has largely been forgotten by most. Facebook reports from friends in Nepal focus on how little has been achieved since the first wave of humanitarian help, and after donations from all over the world poured in to rebuild homes and infrastructure, the news I hear is not good. Reconstruction projects are tied up in red tape. Little has been achieved. Villagers who lost their homes and possessions still live precariously in tent villages waiting for help. For many the aftermath of the disaster in frozen in time.
One year on for me, its a very different story. I can hardly believe its been only a year…a particularly challenging one too..with so many changes. New country, new job, new home…in a completely different corner of the planet. Yet a big part of my heart remains in Nepal.
Among the many reminders of our time there is a tapestry project that I worked on during the crisis. I’ve made a tapestry cushion in several of the countries that we have lived, picking a subject that appealed to me, as well being symbolic of my time in that country. After a long online search, I picked a beautiful peacock in shades of blue and purple. Its a memory of my time in Chitwan where we watched wild peacocks running around on the jungle floor. The plan was to slowly work on it, especially during all the travel required before we reached Jamaica. I started work on the tail, a little every night.
We spent the first two nights after the earthquake sleeping on Robert’s office floor. As we headed over to the safety of the Embassy, I grabbed a little overnight bag, a book, and the tapestry for something to do. In the days that followed immediately after the earthquake, I worked on the tapestry almost non-stop. There was something extraordinarily calming about the repetition of the “needle in, needle out”needlework stroke, giving my hands something to do and occupying the motor skills function of my brain, which handled the task of deciding the direction of stitching and what section to tackle next, leaving the rest of my brain to work on processing what had happened. I guess it was kind of a meditation.
Ironically, I was unable to finish it before we left. The kit I purchased had been mispacked and I had reams of purple and blue leftover, but ran out of the background colour. The manufacturer in England had gone out of business and I had to search online until I could track down the wool brand, identify the particular shade of white, and find a supplier that could mail it to me. After several months of unsuccessful tries, I was able to source the wool and finish the tapestry here in Jamaica. Yet the project is still not complete. Its yet to become a cushion and now I have to figure out where to buy sewing supplies in Kingston..the hunt goes on! Its tempting to somehow symbolically connect the project with my personal journey from Nepal to Jamaica, how all the little stitches over time form not just a picture, but their own tapestry of memories, challenges and unresolved issues that have been part of any big change in life, but especially this one….or something like that….