Under the stained glass

By Andrés Rozada

Coming up next, a video with shocking images of yesterday’s devastating earthquake in Mexico city.

This video shows the enormous destruction caused by the earthquake, which registered 8.5 on the Richter scale. These images were found in the rubble of one of the major buildings torn down yesterday in Mexico city. The video and the live voice of the cameraman give us a second by second narrative of the earthquake. This video gives us an understanding of why this terrible event has already claimed more lives than the earthquake of 1985.

We must warn you in advance that what you will see and hear may be shocking for some in the audience. We decided to show the video because of its informative value, but we urge you to exercise caution. Let’s go the video.

“Is the camera on? I think so. The little red light is on. Good. I am recording.”

The video starts with a brief view of the street, with rapid, shaky movements: the sidewalk, the entrance to a white Art-Déco building, a marble staircase. One can hear screaming, car alarms in the background.

“You have to leave! Now! We’re evacuating!” The video flips horizontal, stopping briefly on the stressed face of a guard wearing a yellow helmet, shouting in a loudspeaker. The narrator says something impossible to understand, the image breaks down in abrupt movements. The guard’s shouting in the background:

“Go back! Go back! We have to evacuate! It’s falling down!”

The video stops on the ceiling, an enormous chandelier is swinging back and forth. Breaking down. Crystal and metal pieces are crashing to the ground. The sound of breaking glass can be heard, mixed with screams all around. The narrator – and cameraman – says with a surprisingly calm voice:

“I am inside the Palace of  Fine-Arts. I sneaked in so you could see the destruction from within. It’s been shaking non-stop for over a minute now. I’m gonna try and go to the main hall to film the stained glass roof.”

The video moves again, climbing stairs to a corridor half blocked by a fallen marble column. The narrator says:

“There is someone trapped under the column, but I can’t stop to help, I hope you understand. Somebody has to shoot this.”

At the end of the corridor, the video takes us to the main hall. The disaster is plain to see. Several bodies are lying on the marble floor under a mantle of bits and pieces of crystal and lead. The camera pans slowly upwards, aiming at the stained glass ceiling.

Crystal of all colours is raining down. The noise is deafening. The immense stained glass ceiling is breaking down. The half-moon still up won’t last long. The narrator’s voice can be heard, shouting above the din:

“I hope the video will make it! It’s the best thing I ever shot!”

The remaining part of the ceiling crumbles. Above the noise, one can hear a scream, strangely enough, a scream of intense emotion, not a scream of terror.

The end

“King Quake”

Translator’s note: four years ago, to-day, we lost our son-in-law, Andrés Rozada. I must confess, the passing of time does not make it easier. Andrés, beyond a wonderful and unique human being, was a talented architect and writer. He wrote many a fantastic story in Spanish. Most set in Mexico City. The above tells of major earth quake in the City some time in the future. Sketches (c) Iván Zaragoza. Our daughter Virginie put together some of Andrés’ best stories in Spanish in a book published two years ago under the title: “Historias de un plomero.” Stories of a plummer. Andrés, though an architect, called himself a ‘plummer’. Humour at its best. “King Quake”, as drawn above is another story by Andrés Rozada which I already posted

We miss you, Andrés.

92 thoughts on “Under the stained glass

    • Yes, you’re right. His words and stories still are. He was always very impressed by the 1985 earthquake here in Mexico. Though he was very little. That quake killed dozens of thousands of people. When we arrived in ’89, there were still buildings in ruins in the centre.
      Thanks for your visit and comment, Lumi. Bless you.

      • Had to chime in – that is crazy how their was still so much devastation in 89 after the 85 quake
        But makes sense – I remember traveling the southern US in early 1990s and saw the clean up from Hurricane Andrew trickle along

  1. Now, that’s a thoughtful story, telling so much about our times in so few lines!
    I am sorry for your family’s loss and wish you all good wishes, strength and love on this most poignant of days.

  2. Hello Brian. Sorry for your grief and the grief your family shares over the loss of your family member. I am glad you have so many good memories and his stories to remember him with. Best wishes always. Hugs

  3. Captivant, au sens propre. Bravo, Andrés, et pleins de sourires à vous, où que vous êtes. Je vous ai pris au sérieux ! J’ai commencé par sauter le texte. Je sais ce qu’est 8.5 sur l’échelle de Richter parce qu’aeolus, mon dernier satellite, a été testé à un équivalent approximatif de 8.9. Et j’étais dans la salle et je n’ai aucune envie de revivre cela … même si, moi, j’étais plutôt, mais pas totalement, en sécurité à quelques mètres du pot vibrant.
    Merci, Brieuc, pour cette mémoire et une belle, douce et souriante journée à toi.

    • Merci Gilles. Ce texte est très vrai, bien que ce soit de la fiction. J’ai des amis ici, dont l’immeuble et l’appartement se sont fendus en deux. Ils ont dû sauter la brisure pour s’enfuir dans ce qui restait d’escalier. Bonne nuit.

      • There are shakes almost daily. small ones. here and there. Since we have moved to this house 4-5 years ago, there’s been at least 2 strong quakes.

      • That’s awfull, I mean you are sitting on a powder keg.
        I looked once on an earthquake map and found that there are many small earthquakes even in Austria, hardly noticeable, but they are there. So we get the insight again that we are not safe anywhere. Not even up here in Scandinavia. We can just as well enjoy life to the full in the hear and now.

      • It is. A powder keg. Fortunately we live in a house. So when it starts shaking and moving, we just run down the stairs and outside…
        Enjoy indeed.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about the death of your son-in-law, such a loss for your family. The image of the stained glass ceiling coming down in the story was particularly affecting.

    • Thank you Liz. Sadly, death is all around. We have forgotten that a bit. Ray Bradbury once wrote a stroy about that. The living have the hardest time, so to speak. Plus when the young die, it makes it worse.
      And that story of Andrés is very powerful. I was wondering which one translate for today. This one was the obvious choice.
      Thank you. Stay safe.

    • It doesn’t does it? Well you must know. Mother’s Day must be hard for you. And for me, it’s the day I had to take my mother to the hospital. She passed away 3 days later. Now about the pain? I know there comes a time when one remembers them with a smile. But still. We miss them don’t we?

  5. So sad to hear of Andres passing. May he rest in peace.
    I was right there in the moment with that terrifying scene. A reality for those who live in earthquake zones. Skillfully written!

  6. The sheer horror unfolding, and the persisting understanding (anxiety?) that we can’t predict or control nature, which can deeply wound us, is powerful stuff. And so too a powerful testimony to your son-in-law in that moment.

  7. I must admit that when I first began reading this, I thought … “there’s been such a major earthquake in Mexico City and I didn’t even know???” So I quickly hopped over to Google, found nothing, came back and finished reading. The story was so real, so credible, so gripping. It broke my heart to read that the author, your beloved son-in-law, had died. But, obviously his memory lives on and you will ensure that it does so. Hugs, Brian.

    • Means the story worked well, didn’t it? Takes you in its grip from the very first words.
      Yes, it is sad. But then it allows us to celebrate his memory in a meaningful way. Gave me a few ideas too.
      Thanks for your visit and comment. Hugs back.

  8. It’s a good story. He was an astute and talented young man. I am sorry for your loss…and for your child’s loss of a husband..that must almost be the greater pain.

  9. A lovely piece of writing, bleak also (to me, at least), but lovely. Four years. Time seems to have sped past, and while I know time doesn’t fade such powerful memories, it is wonderful to keep them alive in his writings.

    • Thank you Paul. For everything. There is a bleak side to it of course, but it was nice to translate Andrés’ story to English. He wrote many others. Maybe we can do something about an English version. We’ll see. Meantime… thanks a mil for stopping by.

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