Lakit: The Smiling Daughter of Bey

This landslide has swept the house of Lakit
We have been hearing many “narratives” of Sikkim Earthquake since its occurrence on September 18th. The spectators, or we may say the narrators, whosoever they may be, exaggerate the events in such a way that the real things remain behind curtail because of their overstatement. I also have heard similar exaggerated narratives from some people after the earthquake. Few people of my village Assam Lingzey told me that it is “impossible” to reach some places like Sakyong, Thulung and Bey in North Sikkim due to the massive landslides. They were very much correct in their sayings and possibly they were averting me from going there in the midst of Dasain. It was a challenging task for all of us to reach there. But, as we reach there the “narratives” were different. In fact, we had a face to face contact with the vinegary realities of earthquake in Bey.

A cloth pack left by the villagers at Bey
We were already aware from the fact that the village called Bey in north Sikkim has been abandoned by the villagers and they were now living at a Relief Camp at Char Mile. Even though, we decided to go there to see the enormity of the huge shake which has thrilled the entire state of Sikkim. In the evening of 7th October, a native of Lingzya had come to our camp at the Panchayat Bhavan of the village. He told us about the death of a 16 years old girl at Bey due to the landslide after the earthquake. She was Lakit Lepcha, a student of Class VII of Lingzya Jr. High School. She was a smiling and a beautiful child and was staying at Lingzya with her friends. On 18th September which will be remembered as a “Black Day” by every Sikkimese in the coming days, she asked her friends to visit her house at Bey to have Momo (a traditional Tibetan dish mostly popular in the entire Himalayan region). Her friends refused to go with her and they stay back at Lingzya. After their refusal she took a small boy from Lingzya to her house at Bey. Her brother, a saw puller (I have forgotten his Name) who was working at lower Dzongu, had also come to his house. When the earthquake occurred, the brother-sister duo was preparing Momo for the evening. After a few seconds of the earthquake the mountain above their village fall down with a huge spark (possibly occurred due to rubbing of the rocks) and swept the house of Lakit leading her to bury inside the debris of her house. Her smiles, her happiness, her containment and cheerfulness were also buried along with her in the wreckage  of her house.  The small boy, who accompanied Lakit on her way to Bey, fortunately was at another house where a Puja was going on. The second house remains untouched and many other villagers of Bey survived.
Relief Team of Namchi Govt. College on the way to Bey
After hearing this account about Lakit, I decided to meet the surviving members of her family. They had come to Bey to lift Dhaja in the name of those who lost their lives in the catastrophe of September 18th. Her surviving family members (I did not have the courage to ask their relation with Lakit) cried in front of us while telling about her. The family has lost almost all of its members. Five people including Lakit lost their lives at Bey. Three bodies had been recovered, but they could not find the bodies of another two people.
After hearing about the untimed and a most unfortunate demise of Lakit, every person in our team got tearful. The account about the smiling daughter of Bey is not an overstatement as we have been hearing; it is undeniably a heartbreaking fact of the September 18th. I wanted to acquire more information about her from Lingzya.  After our arrival from Bey, I met a student of Lingzya Jr. High School and asked her about Lakit. She told me that Lakit was her senior and was a pleasant and a kindly girl. On 8th of October, we left Lingzya and proceeded towards Singtam for Namchi. Everybody in our team was silently praying for the soul of the Smiling Daughter of Bey to rest in peace. 

Namchi Government College Relief Team reaches Bey in North Sikkim

 The earthquake of 18th September 2011 has given a rigorous and an unforgettable pain to every Sikkimese. It was a huge shake which not only devastated “Abode of God” but, also defaced the natural beauty of the tiny Himalayan State of the Indian Union. A diminutive amount was collected by the teachers and students of Namchi Govt. College to provide relief materials among the earthquake victims’ in North Sikkim. The main objective of the team was to meet the earthquake sufferers and to make them feel that “we are also not distant” as well as to share commiseration. Before leaving there, the team members have gathered information about the existing situation of the affected areas and reached to a conclusion to visit Bey, a far flung village in North Sikkim.
L-R Phurba Lepcha, Santosh Rai, Jeet Bardewa, Hari Ch. Sharma, Simon Rai, Dweep Subba, Rajen Upadhyay
On 7th of October after receiving Tika from our elders on the propitious festival of Dasain, we began to proceed towards Mangan, the district headquarters of North Sikkim. After some formalities we moved towards Lingzya, the last vehicle accessible village of that part (though Bey is also connected by road but due to heavy landslides after the earthquake it is totally cut-off from the mainland). It was almost 6:30 in the evening therefore we decided to stay at the Panchayat Bhavan which was turned as a relief camp after the earthquake. We met the Panchayat of Lingzya who made necessary arrangements for us to stay in the village. The Panchayat informed us about the fatalities met by his village and his village men. We tried to meet the people in the relief camp but, Mr. Bhutia the Panchayat told us that most of the earthquake victims have started to return to their own houses. It is a beautiful village mostly inhabited by the Lepchas very few Bhutias and the Nepalese who are mostly agriculture laborers from Nepal.
Namchi Govt. College team at 10th Mile Landslide
On 8th of October, before we left for Bey, few villagers told us about two shocks occurred in the morning. They further told us that the shocks now have become usual elements in their lives. Yaha ta sano sano bhuichalo aai bascha….aba ta hamilai daar lagnu chodeko cha (here small shocks occur usually…now we do not get scare). There were more or less 80 bags which were to be distributed to the victims of Bey. We decided to carry few bags as we were told that almost all the families of Bey were rehabilitated at 4th Mile. After having tea, we began to move towards Bey, one of the worse hit areas of Sikkim. We were carrying relief materials that included dry edibles and materials of daily use like candle, soap, cooking oil, toothpaste, toothbrush etc. Due to heavy landslide after the earthquake, the road connecting Bey with the mainland is now totally devastated. It is now all covered by silt, rocks and clay. We reached 10th Mile where we could witness the real destruction of the earthquake. The entire road (approx. 400 mts) is washed away by the avalanche and it is now covered by huge rocks and sludge. More or less, all of the mountains in that part of North Sikkim had attrition and abrasion.
After crossing nearly fourteen landslides and the perilous way (where we had to cross the gaps by walking on undersized logs and sometimes by holding ropes tighten there by the mountaineering team) our team reaches Bey at 8:30 A.M. There were very few villagers who had come there to lift Dhaja in the name of the deceased from 4th Mile relief camp. We distributed the relief materials to the villagers and shared our grief to the surviving members of the deceased.
This Landslide has shattered the village of Bey
The villagers notify us that the village used to have 16 houses of which 4 were sweep away by the landslide. It has to be mentioned here that this village is situated below a mountain which was fall down after the earthquake leading to the death of five people of a lone family. The misfortune of those people who lost their lives is excruciating. After the wobble, the villagers were rescued by the teams led by the locals and NDRF personals. Apart from the human lives, the village has lost almost every means of its survival. It has lost its agricultural lands, livestock, houses, orchards, cardamom lands and so on. According to a woman she has lost all of her livestock in the catastrophe. She had twenty cows, few pigs and goats which were brush off by the landslide. We have also observed homely materials like frying pan, and small packs of cloth scattered around the village which were thrown by the villagers in distress. The domestic animals, which had overcome the fatality, were grazing in the plains of the derelict village.
The picture of present Bey is a heartbreaking one. Within a fraction of second the beautiful village of Bey was converted into a land of misery. The Lepchas of Bey and their virtuousness, their openhandedness and their simplicity on the one side and the loss of their near and dear ones along with their property on the other has greatly shaken my idea of the existence of a “Supernatural Power” which we generally term as GOD.
The team of Namchi Government College was lead by Mr. Rajen Upadhyay, Assistant Professor Department of History and was convoy by Mr. Dweep Subba (V Semester) Mr. Jeet Bardewa (V Semester) Mr. Tilak Bardewa (Pass out Student), Mr. Hari Chandra Sharma (V Semester), Mr. Phurba Lepcha (III Semester), Mr. Santosh Rai (III Semester) and Mr. Simon Rai (Driver). Being a team Leader I would like to thank Mr. Simon Rai who has carried the entire relief materials on his shoulders on the adverse way towards Bey.
Distributing Relief materials to the villagers at Bey

Crossing the perilous way