Where I was today, eleven years ago

9/11:  As the eleventh anniversary is upon us, I thought I would recount my 9/11 story.

September 2001. I was in eleventh grade, or First Year Junior College as we called it in Mumbai. I was checking my email on rediff.com on a cranky dial-up—which is irrelevant except to highlight that whole idea of checking email back then was to get-in, read, and get-out lest someone calls the land-line and I might have to start again.

Before I logged in, I read something like “Plane crashes into New York World Trade Center Building.” I didn’t click on it. I thought it was a tasteless joke by some writer who should not have followed his dream. When I was done, and I logged out, I read that the second tower had been hit.

I had never felt such horror. As everyone else, I was appalled by the loss of life, but what distressed me was the randomness of this brutality. This could hit anyone, anywhere. None of those victims provoked this. Their existence was unjustly halted—not to mention the loss to their loved ones.

My emotions weren’t nearly as complex as they are now, but I also remember this feeling of foreboding. Even before 9/11, we knew what terrorism was in India. We had faced bomb blasts and our constant friction with Pakistan meant that anybody in Mumbai could someday become a target. But America couldn’t be touched. No one would dare attack the USA. It would always be a beacon of the future, a vanguard of technology, and the truest practical representation of liberty in the real world. And it was strong. Call me naive, but it meant something that an almost-utopia existed.

Every anniversary of this fateful day, all I can think of is that no one is safe. Now, intellectually, I’m aware that the probability of dying from terrorism is minuscule compared to many other risks we take everyday. But I’m sorry; dying of lung cancer or heart disease or the complications of diabetes is not the same as a plane crashing into your building. Dying prematurely from an unsafe lifestyle is not the same as the existence of malicious people in this world who want to hurt us.

The impact of a terrorist attack is farther-reaching than any other calamity. It travels through time too. Not to take anything away from the victims or their loved ones or from the heroic firefighters, but on that day, we were all victims. At least a bit.

Related posts:

Today I’m thankful — Geminigirlinarandomworld

Remembering — Kitchen Slattern

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20 Comments

  1. Terrorism slowly changed the world and then 9/11, which changed so much and so quickly. Each nation responded and within nations, each person reacted. The US, well though we mourned we also did some terrible things in response and the consequence of 9/11 continue to reverberate through our society 11 years later.

    This was nicely done.

  2. Thoughtful post. Like you said, my emotions are so complex about this day, most I can’t even put into words. I just have an overwhelming feeling of sadness.

  3. Bharat,

    I really enjoy reading your point of view. It’s always interesting, and takes a slightly different angle than others. You make me think in ways I wouldn’t have before reading your work. Thanks for that, and for your thought-provoking post.

    Stacie

  4. I always knew something was very special about you and today I learnt a new thing…Damn you can definitely write as good as any author from NYtimes. Thanks to Shashank as he shared the link on Facebook otherwise I would never be able to read some good and worthwhile.

  5. I’ve been to NYC 4 times when I was in the US and every time I visited the WTC site I’ve had this rush of silent emotions. The only thing I’m reminded of, when I look at pictures of the site or of the buildings when they were standing, is the fact that almost 3000 people were sacrificed right here for some twisted sense of identity and security by a bunch of despicable fanatics!

  6. So true. Terrorism can strike anywhere, and it can come from within or without. But I agree–having such a bold attack on U.S. soil was an eye-opener for everyone. This was a nice tribute piece.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    • Yeah. I was sixteen—perfect mix of naïveté and comprehension. So, it scared me a lot. Thanks for visiting!

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