9:23 PM

On the morning of June 5th 2015, at 7.15 a.m., I was awakened by tremors. The first few seconds of the 10-30 second tremor, my brain decided to make out what was actually happening. My bed was shaking. It felt as if a giant hand was shaking my room urging me to get out of bed quickly. So I did. But I didn't go out of my room, instead, I looked out of my bedroom window, expecting to see the neighbours evacuating out of their houses in panic. But not a soul emerged. I continued to be puzzled. Was it only my house that experienced the tremor? Then, the tremor stopped. There were many questions in my head that were balled up into one - "What just happened?" It was obviously an earthquake but that wasn't the first thing that came into my mind. My mind somehow refused to believe that that was an earthquake. I was deeply stupefied because an earthquake had never happened around this region (West Coast of Sabah) before.

So I decided to continue to lie in bed. I checked Facebook and Twitter for status updates. It was confirmed. That was an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9. Almost everyone who is staying in the West Coast of Sabah updated their statuses about it. I felt so silly for my brain for not believing in what actually happened few minutes before.

However, my experience during the quake was considered mediocre. It couldn't be compared to those who were near the epicenter which was in Ranau and to be more specific, those who were stranded on Mount Kinabalu. Few of those people who were stranded up there happened to be my juniors from IPG Gaya. I thought of the rocks on the mountain that was falling down. I saw someone posted on Facebook that they saw fragments of the mountain detached itself from the mountain, shattered. What he saw shattering was probably the famous Donkey Ears. From a far, it looked so small, but it's probably as tall as Yayasan Sabah or it could be shorter than that. Heaven knows what could be happening on that mountain at that very moment. But it's a relief to know that my juniors are safe.

As hours and days go by (this entry is written 6 days after the quake), reports of deaths on the mountain have turned the whole nation, especially Sabah into grief. 4 of the victims were the Mount Kinabalu mountain guides. The whole nation acknowledged them for their heroic act. Although their souls have now departed from this world, their contribution and sacrifice will never be forgotten. They are immortalized in Sabah's history.

As for the climbers who have survived, I know no mere words can describe the mental and emotional reaction toward such tragic event, what they went through, and what they saw during their climb down to safety. Not when it's coming from someone who only felt the quake 64 kilometres away from the epicentre. 

As for the climbers who were sacrificed, I couldn't have imagined it if my family and loved ones were the ones who became the victims. Again, no mere words could describe the feelings of the family and friends of the victims. I especially pity the Singaporean students and the teacher. What was expected to be a new learning experience turned out to be a tragic end for them. My heart sinks and breaks as I see posts online regarding the 18 deaths. This makes me appreciate my loved ones more because it could have gotten worse here in the West Coast of Sabah. 

In honor of the victims and survivors of the quake, this was a thoughtful effort done by CrackoArtGroup at the graffiti ruin located in front Suria Sabah. It has been turned into a memorial site. Bouquet of flowers and candles were lighted up as a symbol of honouring the victims and survivors of the quake. As I was standing among the people there, I felt woe suffused the vicinity. It was solemn and beautiful at the same time. It was solemn because of the tragedy and yet it was beautiful because people from all walks of life gathered around as one in solidarity with everyone on Mount Kinabalu.

Aki Nabalu will never be the same again. 

You Might Also Like