This photo from Reuters tore my heart into a gazillion tiny splinters. I never knew China could pain my soul so bad.
If you look closely you will see a pair of shod feet peeping under a huge amount of rubble – the sad and horrifying aftermath of the earthquake that left approximately 50,000 dead in China’s Sichuan province alone. These are a young student’s feet. An entire middle school collapsed when the quake hit the hilly areas of Sichuan, burying nearly 900 of unwary students, who for all we know had actually been doodling notes on paper or sharing dreams with their classmates. At least 50 were confirmed dead, and others declared missing. Another children’s school buried more than 150 students, later confirmed dead, while more than twenty cannot be accounted for. The students who were buried dead in this school had reportedly been taking a nap when the quake hit. As I write this, my hands are shaking and tears threaten to blur the screen anytime.
The earthquake was so devastating that even huge chemical plants were reduced to gray rubbish. A road was blocked by mountainous debris, and as it was impossible for rescue workers to get through they had to resort to explosives to clear the way. Parents, sisters, brothers, were seen weeping in front of schools, searching for life signs amidst the heap of ruins. Doors were utilized as makeshift stretchers in the hope of speeding up the rescue procedures and in saving as many lives as possible. Mickey mouse backpacks and water bottles were all that was left, and a collective grief that was too inconsolable for words. Countless bodies were lined inside morgues covered in white linen, little feet peeping through the cloths, or stubby fingers stained with dried blood. Parents could only kneel and weep, for there was nothing else left to do.
Look closer above, and you will find a tiny butterfly captured fluttering near the plastic bottle and the pastel colored shoes. I can only hope it tells us something. Something that resembles hope and faith and better days that lie ahead, in spite of the monstrosity of past events. There won’t be happy days for years to come, as far as the parents of these children are concerned. There won’t be joyful birthdays, homework nights, sports practice, and graduation days. There won’t be long kisses goodnight.
For all of the beauty and greatness that is China, little did I know this nation could actually break my heart so bad.