by Marjorie George
I really do not want to be reminded of the events of September 11th 2001. I do not even want to visit the area they call "Ground Zero". I do not like to see graphic photos of the flaming or crashing towers. I just want this whole war on terrorism to be over with.
What am I really afraid of? I really do not know. I remember seeing a lady covered in white silt trying her best to get on one of the overcrowded buses that was going out of the city. After that scene I would dream of this ghost for days to come. I would sometimes dream of the events like I was actually at the site. In my dreams, I could hardly recognize the lady's face. A white ghost comes out of thick dark shadows of dust, which had already taken over the entire area. It comes closer and closer until I can make out what seems to be hands. Feet? I cannot tell. I cannot recognize a face. It's coming closer and closer, while the rumbling, tumbling and then a loud deafening crash ensues. Rubble, more dust and thick black clouds are all around me. The white ghost starts at a quick run. Then it reaches me, and I realize its just one of the survivors, covered in white dust and silt, running towards safety. Behind her the World Trade Center Towers are crashing down to earth.
Is that what I am really afraid of? Ghosts? I'm not scared of this ghost. I know it is in my imagination. "The dead can't hurt you" my grandmother would always say. I think what I was really experiencing was the fear of being alone.
I am on the train heading for home, and whenever the train stops too long at a station stop I get anxious. I can hear my heart beating in my ears when the train stops between stations, in the tunnel, in the dark. Then I get really scared. My usually dry palms get sweaty and my body temperature rises. I am once again reminded of the fateful first day of school, September, 11 2001, when the D train was held between station stops, in the tunnel, in the dark, for over twenty minutes. I didn't know then, but the first plane had crashed into Tower One.
I didn't know then, that fear and turmoil was ravaging people above ground. I didn't know then, how lucky I was that I had taken the early train to school. If I was later I might have been stuck in train, in the tunnel, in the dark, for God knows how long. I do not even want to think of what might have been. I get Goosebumps just thinking about it. I hope this train closes its doors quickly and move on.
I would be able to move on and feel more at ease if the news headlines read that Osama bin Laden, instigator and mastermind of the attacks, was finally caught. I would feel more at ease if his partner in crime, Mohammed Omar was caught as well, and they were both brought to justice, to pay for their crimes. But that I know would not end the war on terrorism. It would be a big step in preventing more attacks of this caliber from reoccurring. Catching these criminals may put some real fear in the minds of other cowardly terrorists, and have them re-think their actions.
As far back as I can remember, in every tragedy I've been through, I have never been as troubled as I am after 9/11. It was because I had always had family around, when these tragedies occurred. Someone was always there to keep me company and I felt safe. But on the day the Towers fell I was alone.
Alone in a place I hardly knew. Alone; in the midst of strangers who, on 42nd and Fifth Avenue, were more terrified that I was. Alone - not being able to reach any of my family members via telephone.
That is what I was afraid of- of being alone. But I really do not want to be reminded of the events of 9/11. I do not want to relive the fear, loneliness and distraught feelings I was going through on that Tuesday. It was the first day of school at NYU, and my first time in that area of the city, and I felt like an alien on a foreign planet. No where to turn, nowhere to go. Head North, head South? I did not even know where north or south was.
I do not want to be reminded of how hard I tried, but to no avail, to call my mother and sister using my useful useless cell phone. I thought that was why cell phones were invented for- Emergencies. But not on that day. My sister and mother worked closer to the World Trade Center and I had no idea if they were at work when the tragedy occurred. I do not want to rehash those feelings of that day, when I had no idea which way to go to find transportation to get back to the Bronx, safe with my son. I do not even want to think about my pockets, devoid of quarters, so I could try to use the few working payphones to call someone, anyone, to find out how to get home.
When I was home on the nature island of Dominica we were frequently visited by disastrous hurricanes. Just as disastrous as the attack on the Towers. But I am not afraid of hurricanes; in fact, I love hurricanes. Hurricanes bring with them a power that is overwhelming. It is a natural disaster element but the attack on the WTC was not natural.
During a hurricane I would love to go near the sea and stare in awe, at a dangerous distance, at the towering waves crashing on the nearby rocks and sidewalks. They would tear away at the sidewalk slabs and the tar-pitched roads. I enjoy running away from the oncoming giant waves. The wave would sometimes break over 100ft from its usual shoreline. It would chase me and my cousins and we would feel the rush of excitement, not fear, while we run as fast as we could before it caught up with us.
The taste of salt in our mouth, eyes, nostrils and skin would all be part of the triumph when we beat the wave to the streets. But the dust and silt on September 11th was not a part of triumph for me. It was not like a hurricane; it was worse. Almost as worse as Hurricane David.
This was the biggest and worst hurricane to ever visit Dominica; and he came without permission on August 29, 1979. I was two years old but can faintly remember feeling safe. I remember the house filled with water while I hobbled safely on my nine-yr old cousin's back. Her sisters were helping to remove the rising water in the hallway. The neighbors who had come to our house for shelter helped by using any instrument that could hold water. Many of them were terrified that the 200 mph winds would remove the roof above our heads, but I wasn't.
It was exciting for me to see all these people here in our personalized in-home pool, with natural sound effects outdoors. I was caught up in the battering rain and clapping thunder accompanied by the flashing lightning. When the lights went out the only electricity was the stuff in the sky. Then the wind came. It made a high breathless whistle, galloping to a whooping scream; shaking the roof and making the house feel like the take off of a jet. The sea had taken houses and boats hostage and made its bed where neighbors' houses once stood. However, I felt safe because my family was near me and had never left my side.
I remember another incident when I was 14 years old sitting on my porch during a hurricane warning, staring anxiously at the rising waves. I remember running outside in the torrential rain with my cousin, then 23, heading towards the harbor. The waves were in complete turmoil, getting bigger and angrier. Some fishermen were fighting a tug of war with them, for one of the forgotten boats. This time the fishermen won, but that was after the waves had taken a few boats to their grave and were busy breaking slabs on the sidewalk and undermining the narrow roads. I had flip-flop slippers which were quite soggy and I slopped my way through the crowd so that I could have a closer look at the damage the waves were creating. Watching the water was hypnotic.
My cousin and I were standing on the quay, when a huge wave crept up on our left leaving us just enough time to run for shelter before it crashed on the road, taking one of my slippers hostage. My cousin thought it was funny, when I came out with one slipper, but I was glad that was all it took. Many have lost their lives during hurricanes. Many have slept through hurricanes only to wake up to find their bodies in a watery grave and their spirits wandering, as ghosts.
But I am not afraid of ghosts or hurricanes. Nevertheless, I was rattled by the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. It was not exciting to watch the buildings crashing and people jumping off the top floors to their death. It was not exciting to feel lost not knowing where to go after the train stations were closed. It was not exciting to be all alone.
I really did not want to write about this. But it is required and maybe it will help me forget. All I want to be reminded of is that God spared my life and the lives of many others on that day. All I want to be reminded of is that we all have one life to live and we never know when it will come to an end.
There is a reason for everything that happens. There is a God and He does his work in mysterious ways. Those who survived the attack of 9/11 had a reason to live. It was all in His big plan. He chose them to live because He wanted the survivors to tell what happened and in so doing help others come to terms with this tragedy. God did not cause them to die for no reason. They died, just as He died to save us; they died to show us that there is a God. He could have prevented it, but allowed it to happen, not to draw us away from Him, but to draw us nearer. Many of us got the wake up call- there is a lot of evil in this world and it needs to end. September 11th victims were chosen by God, not to hurt us, but to remind us that we need to come to him and not turn away. We are not alone.
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