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