As if this whole year so far hasn’t been a fucking horror show, a giant typhoon decided to make an appearance in it. If this was a novel or something, this is about the time the readers would begin to question if they should continue reading the said book.
On Friday the 4th, while D and I were throwing insults at one another while planning out the next semester (which is a whole different kind of headache), the office people came and told us to leave and go buy water and also to stock up on food. I know how this is going to sound but we were so “into” our work that we brushed off their insistence and cracked on with tasks at hand. A couple of hours later, a few more office visits and more emails, and more insistence, we finally left. It was only when I got to the supermarket that I realised the entire city was in a state of panic and it was a revisit of the “toilet roll running out” incident, only this time, it was not toilet rolls but bread and water. Everyone was buying water by the boxes and by the time I got there, there was only tea left. I think I was still in denial of how big the typhoon was going to be because I was surprisingly laid back about it. A couple of days ago, there was another typhoon – it was big and it banged my windows and shook my apartment but it lasted maybe three or four hours and I slept like a baby. So I assumed this next one couldn’t be much worse – ignorance really is a bliss.
Saturday the 5th – news, people sending messages, the hourly public announcements from the speakers around the city and near my house, neighbours duct taping their glass windows rather generously, the hustle and bustle in the shops – all of those combined started to concern me. Then the university called and things were being bombarded at me – we are to be on red alert and my phone was to be with me at all times. Please go back to the office and grab the giant torch lights because power cuts are to be expected. Buy candles. Don’t leave anything on the balconies because they will cause damage to cars and other houses. Don’t leave the house. Trams and trains will stop operating. The nearest shelter is the firehouse next to the university. Get an emergency backpack ready with hand sanitizer and a face mask. I was restless the whole day. I got dressed but didn’t go anywhere. Finally around 5 pm, I ventured out into the wild to feed the cats because I was worried about the cats in their unbridled glory, sat there cooly licking themselves and lounging around campus in various groups without a care. The weather was hot and sunny and it felt like the typhoon was not going to get to Nagasaki at all.
Sunday the 6th – All the messages I kept receiving from people made me feel like I was preparing for a war zone and I felt sick (if there was a war and if I had to fight in one, I will be quite useless) – I had no idea how big it was going to be but it did sound like it will be a super strong typhoon and then I read up more about it and became even more sick. Several people sent me messages – mongering fear with zero-value practical contributions. I have never been in a typhoon before I came to Japan and the only yardstick I had was the one from a couple of days ago and they were saying this second one was bigger than the first one. So my morbid mind kept playing the scenarios where my glass windows shatter and I die because a shard of glass pierce through my eye or something similar to that. So on Sunday, it is safe to say that I was on full panic mode. I stayed in and waited – it was expected to make landfall around 9 pm. With bated breath, I watched the weather reports and saw the typhoon moving into Kyushu. But outside, the weather was rather less dramatic – slight drizzles with a small gust of wind here and there. Around 9 pm, I was listening to music and eating my emergency rations because I’m a moron who have no self-control. I even updated on my Instagram with a drawing “when will the typhoon arrive?” – ha- little did I know!
Around 11 pm, I fell asleep while reading on my bed and then I was jolted awaken by sounds which made me feel like I was in the middle of the ocean on a ship and waves were crushing into the windows. I climbed down from my loft and on my way to the bathroom, I realised it had really started. It felt like things were flying around outside and the howling wind rattled every door in my apartment. I texted my colleague and he texted back saying this is scary. I concurred! A few minutes later, it was clear we were in for a rather rough ride because guess what – it became worse! By now, the winds were howling and my entire apartment was shaking and my windows were under so much strain from the wind and the rain that I was sure they were going to shatter any minute. My mum (bless her) was texting me at that time and I was trying to sound brave for her but when my sister called I screamed every time my apartment shook. At one point, I thought it was calming down so I went to the window and saw that my balcony partition had come unhinged and it was flapping like a banana leaf and I felt certain that if it unhinged completely, it would break my windows. So I grabbed my emergency bag and ran to the corridor, all the while screaming into the phone as my poor sister told me to calm down. I grabbed all the essentials – my shortbread packets and my lemon soda and my books and my fluffy blanket and as I settled down along the corridor of my apartment, my colleague texted me his big glass doors had broken and that he was now reatreating into his own bathroom as well while blindly grabbing for his slippers. Just as were chatting, my power went out and I hung up the phone and in the candle light – I made some pretty weird videos describing everything that was going on and occasionally screaming into the camera and now that the typhoon is over, re-watching these short videos has been hilarious. I was rather dramatic but to be honest, it was also scary.
Fast forward to 45 minutes later, I was eating my short bread and reading Pride and Prejudice and also praying ( saying sutras upside down) and it was getting hot in the corridor. I had enclosed myself between doors and with the candle on, I was starting to sweat and for a moment there, I considered jumping into my bathtub which I had fulled with water since morning in case the pipes stopped working because there was surely going to floods after the typhoon. At that time I also realised maybe it might be a good practice for me to start wearing bras. The weather app was telling us all that this will continue for at least six more hours and you know – to my surpruse, fear can also turn into boredom. I thought to myself, if the windows were to break and things were to start flying into my apartment, I might as well be in my own cozy bed in the loft and at least I won’t be sweating anymore. Besides, I didn’t want to fall asleep and start a fire with the candle or singed my hair and come out of the typhoon with a bald patch. So with a rather silly bravado, I moved back to my loft and fell asleep. I understand that it might be a letdown for you by now that I have decided to sleep rather than scream and pray or be on my highest alert. Despite the occasional rattlings and shakings of my bed, the loft, the entire apartment, I fell asleep and I only woke up when the power came back on. By that time, the typhoon had somewhat dissipated and it was on its merry way to terrorise other prefectures. There was daylight so I could see out and it wasn’t as scary as before. As I stood near my glass doors, I saw my balcony was ruined- the partitions have all fallen down and my meter box or the gas box was falling off. I tried but found out I couldn’t open the door to my balcony but I wasn’t going to either because the tempest was still going strong outside. In the parking lot across the street, I saw many big bikes strewned all over the place and my first thought was – cats. I hope they were alright. I know they are because since then I have fed them and counted them – the usual ones are all there, playing near the turtle pond or chasing after crows while slightly terrorising innocent first-years as they ate their onigiri.
Five days after the typhoon and my balcony and boiler are being fixed and the sun is shining and the entire city seems to be recovering. The busiest are the construction workers and the plumbers going around the city to fix shattered windows, doors and unhinged partitions. Unhinged minds are a different story. So now as my colleague kept reminding me every 20 minutes or so, we can call ourselves the typhoon survivors. This concludes my longish account of my typhoon Haishen update – it would be better with pictures but I was too busy screaming. Do visit Kyushu when you have a chance though. We like to shake things up literally and metaphorically here. 🙂