Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Himalayas Did Not Collapse

Here is my story for this week. 
Natural calamities change the landscape in a matter of hours. 
Man's choice is to accept Nature's fury and work around it after it has occurred. One can prepare for it by leaving the area when there's a previous warning, as it happens in tornadoes and tsunamis. At such times, doing nothing wastes lives and property.
Today's story is about Mount Everest, in the Himalayas.


The Himalayas Did Not Collapse!

 Sa                         Sapna frowned as she faced her mom and said, “Mom, Bhaiya says, the Himalayas are the tallest mountains in the whole world.”
Sagar, at twelve, who was four years older than Sapna, said,  “They are, Sapna. We studied about it in our geography class.”
                     Mom agreed, “Sapna, Sagar is right. The Himalayas have Mount Everest, world’s tallest peak.
                     Sapna wondered, “How did it get to be the tallest?”
Sagar smiled when he said, “Perhaps because the other mountains are shorter.”
Mom also smiled, “Well, long, long ago a big earthquake made the Himalayas.”
Sapna, “An Earthquake made a mountain?”
Sagar jumped in, “Dear Sapna, once a small island came up in Pakistan when there was an earthquake.”
Mom agreed, “That’s right, just like that the Himalayas came up thousands of years ago.
Sapna frowned, “You still didn't tell me, how can an earthquake make a mountain!”
Sagar said, “Mom, I know how it happened.”
“Okay, go ahead explain it to your sister.”
“Well, Sapna, when there is an earthquake, the earth moves and the land cracks.”
Sapna said, “If the land cracks, things drop in the crack! They don’t get pulled out of the earth.”
Sagar nodded, “Good thinking, Sapna. That also happens, things can drop in the cracks but often in an earthquake, things from deep inside the earth, move up.”
Sapna, “I get it, like the lava from the underground, cool. And, you have a mountain! But where will the things from the top go?”
Sagar added, “Sapna, it’s not just one piece of the land that moves, everything moves on land---buildings, bridges, and trees fall where the earthquake occurs. Things shift around.”
Sapna put her hands on her mouth, “Oh, no! That’s horrible. When things fall, do people get hurt?”
Sagar shook his head, “When little girls fall, do their knees are scraped? What do you think happens when a building falls on people? Don’t be such a dim wit.”
Sapna knitted her eyebrows together, “You don’t have to call me names just because you know more.”
“That’s enough children.” Mom said. 
Sagar kept a straight face and continued, “Sapna, do you know how an earthquake occurs in the first place?”
Sapna shook her head, raised her hands and shrugged.
Sagar smiled again and said, “Well, the earth is made of huge, flat pieces of rock called the tectonic plates. These slabs are way bigger than our house or your school.”
Sapna’s eyes widened.
“Yep, they are huge. They move ever so slow. They bump into one another and they pull away; they go past one other; they go over and under. They create lots of friction, rubbing against one another, and boom, you have an earthquake!
Sapna said, “It sounds like toppling a building made of blocks by moving a couple of blocks at the bottom.”
“Exactly. The tectonic plates’ movement is slow, smooth, and constant. You move one block from the bottom and the one on the top falls!”
“That’s awful.”
“One tectonic plate moves with a great force and makes the other plates shift from their place with even a greater force.”
Sapna wanted to know, “You said ‘constant.’  If it happens all the time, why don’t we hear about them? Why don’t we see them?”
“Well, there is just one answer to both your questions. All this occurs deep down below inside the earth. So we don’t see it nor do we hear it! Also, the shifting of tectonic plates does not always bring about an earthquake.”
“How can that be?”
“Simple, by the time the movement comes to the top, its force is gone!”
Sapna had her hand on her chin, “Bhaiya, you learned all this in your geography class?”
“Nope, four of us are doing a science project on earthquakes, so we have to study. Sapna, there’s more.”
“More? I don’t want to learn about the earthquakes anymore. ”
“Okay, you’ve got to hear this last thing---“
“I don't have to. I can’t shut my ears! Maybe I could walk away, my choice.”
“Don’t be silly. Listen, the earthquakes that we see, occur only on earthquake fault lines.”
“It is a weakened line between the tectonic plates, deep in the earth.”
Sapna got up from her chair and said, “Well, Bhaiya, for your project, you better find these fault lines and erase them.”
Sagar also got up, “Yeah, right. I am the big scientist, a seismologist, who can tell where these fault lines are and erase them. You don't understand anything. You can predict an earthquake, you can't stop it.”
Sapna walked to her room.
Sagar decided to eat a banana with honey and think about earthquakes.
Sapna ran back to the kitchen, “Bhaiya, how can I save myself if there is an earthquake here?”
Sagar thought for a moment, “You can go under some huge furniture---the dining table or stand by strong walls on the inside of our house, but never near a window or doors that swing.”
Sapna said thoughtfully, “That's good. Anyway, the Himalayas did not collapse due to an earthquake, actually, an earthquake made them!” 
Sagar agreed, “You got it, the earthquake created the Himalayas.”
Sapna clapped, “With the tallest cliff in the world! Yay…”
“Uh, the tallest peak.”

The End

© 2013, Meera Desai Shah

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