After the earthquake, this Nepali writer dreads an upcoming visit home

The World
Samrat Upadhyay teaches creative writing at Indiana University in Bloomington. He says it's a difficult time for his country.

Like many other Nepalese here in the US, Samrat Upadhyay has been following the news out of Nepal closely. Through phone calls, pictures and videos, he's tries to reassure himself that his friends and relatives are fine. But he still worries.

"I'm getting photographs from my relatives who are still camped outside. My parents spent last night on a field near their house," he says.

Upadhyay, who teaches creative writing at Indiana University, says the situation in rural areas is worse.

"I was looking at some of the images that are coming through … and I just broke down this morning, because it was so hard to even look at [them]," he says.

Upadhyay and his students on a visit to Nepal in 2013.
Upadhyay and his students on a visit to Nepal in 2013.Courtesy of Samrat Upadhyay.

The threat of aftershocks is what worries his family the most.

"My mom told me that every time she goes into the bathroom, she's so afraid that things will start falling on her," he says.

Upadhyay was born and grew up in Nepal. He moved to the US when he was in his 20s.

Upadhyay says even he was taken aback by the beauty of Nepal the last time he visited.
Upadhyay says even he was taken aback by the beauty of Nepal the last time he visited.Courtesy of Samrat Upadhyay.

Although he has lived far from Nepal for years, the country has constantly been present in his mind. It appears in his stories and he regularly takes his students there to visit. Last year they visited a temple high up in the mountains.

"I grew up in Kathmandu but I knew the mountains, of course," he recalls. "Even I was tremendously inspired by how stunningly gorgeous the landscape is."

That beauty, he says, is what strikes tourists and visitors when they first get there. But now, with the earthquake, Upadhyay dreads going back. And his next trip is only a few months away.

"I'm dreading it more for myself. [My students] don't know what existed before except, in pictures," he says. "But I do."

In the end, he admits, it is a reality he has to face.

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