Deepa Dahal in, 2 May

She tries to smile, but is held back by the traumatic memory of a tragedy she survived, that a dozen of her classmates did not. Samira Byanjankar, 24, cannot move around without a walker.

The medical student was one of the 20 survivors of the US-Bangla plane crash that killed 52 people at Kathmandu Airport on 12 March. She is being discharged from hospital in a few days, and needs another month of convalescence at home before she can finally stand on her own feet.

Byanjankar showed remarkable determination to recover from multiple bone fractures in the hip, but she has found it more difficult to overcome the loss of her friends.

Twelve of the 22 Nepalis killed in the crash were medical students with whom she had spent five years at a school in Bangladesh. They were returning home after final exams, while their parents were waiting for them at the airport.

At her hospital bed in Kathmandu, Bjyanjankar heard that she had passed final MBBS exams, and the college in Sylhet had invited her for an internship. But she does not want to go back to a place with so many memories of her lost friends, and the happy moments they shared, caring for each other.

“I don’t want to stay in that empty room without my friends,” she says, her eyes brimming with tears. “I hope the government can help me do my internship in Nepal.”

Byanjankar and her best friend Princy Dhami were admitted into the same ward of Kathmandu Medical College after the crash. Dhami came to only after four days, but was unable to move her body. She kept lying inert on the bed next to her.

Dhami would shake her legs slightly whenever the nurse tried to give her an injection. Byanjankar would soothe her with her voice, and she would stop resisting. Dhami was later medevaced to India, but she did not make it. Her friend’s death further devastated Byanjankar.

Even in the plane, the two had sat next to each other. As the plane approached Kathmandu, they were chatting about how excited they were to be back home. But the plane began to fly in a strange manner, nearly hitting the terminal building, and then a mountain.

When the plane crashlanded, Byanjankar fainted and when she regained consciousness, she could not move her body below the waist. She tried to shake Dhami, but she was still unconscious. Soon, soldiers pulled her out and took her to hospital.

Says Byanjankar: “I do not know whether I am lucky or unlucky. I survived, but my friends did not.”

For full Nepali version of this story go online