WATCH: Wedding day turned nightmare: Bride weeps for groom killed in earthquake
PIDIE JAYA, Indonesia – It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life.
But on Wednesday, December 7, a day before her wedding day, 31-year-old Yusra Fitriani awoke as the ground shook violently from a 6.5-magnitude earthquake. It was 5:05 am when the quake hit, just as residents of the conservative Muslim province awoke for morning prayers.
It wasn’t until after the morning prayers, after she and her family saw the aftermath of the earthquake, that she began to worry about her groom-to-be, Suharnas. Then they received the news: Meureudu market, where Suharnas was sleeping, had been completely destroyed.
The bride’s father, Yunus, said he rushed to the market, his heart pounding, to check on his future son-in-law.
“Early in the morning, around 7 o’clock, we saw ourselves the effect and aftermath of the quake. The whole building where the groom was staying collapsed entirely,” Yunus told Rappler. “When we saw that, we thought there is little chance that anyone in that building would survive.”
Suharnas, 31, slept with his family at his home above the market, where he sold watches for a living. All 7 of his family members died in the quake. All had travelled to Dayah Timu village for the wedding.
It was only in the afternoon that Suharnas’ body was pulled from the rubble.
“When we saw his body, we didn’t find any wounds. The body had blackened. People say that the black color means he ran out of oxygen,” he said.
"The ceremony should have happened on Thursday, but suddenly Allah had other plans."
'Test from God'
Suharnas was one of 100 people who died in the quake that has crippled Pidie Jaya. The earthquake destroyed buildings, mosques and houses, cracked roads, and forced the province to declare a state of emergency until December 20 as hundreds others are injured.
Power went out soon after the quake and was yet to be restored two days later. Over 3,000 have been evacuated, many of whom are now homeless.
Yusra, who was visibly devastated, refused to speak to media, staring off into space with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Her home had been sectioned off for wedding preparations, with a section for butchering the cow, another for the kitchen, and still another for serving the guests.
But on Wednesday late afternoon, it was eerily silent and stood at a standstill.
“We were going to invite 1,000 guests,” Yunus said. “The cow was prepared and ready. As were all the spices. It just needed to be cooked. It was going to be butchered, and the meat would be cut up for cooking or to make a curry, mixed with the spices according to village tradition. Then it would be served to the guests and the village residents.”
The guests arrived, but there were no festivities.
On Thursday, the day of the wedding, guests began arriving, some bearing gifts for the happy couple, unaware of the tragedy.
They were instead confronted by a grieving bride too distraught to talk.
In a room meant to be the bridal bedroom, the bride’s mother, Raijati, comforted her daughter.
"Stay strong my child, this is a test from God.” – Rappler.com/with reports from Natashya Gutierrez/Agence France-Presse