I couldn’t imagine how a terrorist attack could change so many things around us. I was 10. I heard the news from my class teacher, from whom I learned that it was a very destructive attack and “many people died”.
The news was on the headline for weeks on end and everybody talked about it. I was too young to understand anything. It was a grand-scale tragedy because – as the 10-year old me believed – “many people died”.
And as stories of grievance and anger were published on the papers, they were, too, written in the memories of those affected with indelible ink.
As years go by, September 11 has always been a day that people stand shoulder-to-shoulder in mourning. The downfall of the US economy, the hunt and the death of Bin Laden…
It is easy or rather conformist of me to say that I care or I understand. All this while, I’ve been looking at the catastrophic aftermath of this terrorist attack like a child observing a thunder storm from the window of her room. There’s absolutely no way I could feel or do anything.
And aren’t you the same?
12 years later, I have the opportunity to see the scene of this tragic attack.
Where the Twin Towers once stood are two large cavernous square pools, extending far downward below the surface of the ground, so dark and unfathomably deep. Names of nearly 3000 victims were inscribed in bronze on the parapets, specially arranged in an order that those who died next to each other that day have their names placed side by side in a meaningful way. Water lashed down from all four sides of the pools, the momentum so great it generated sounds like the bellowing of a man.
Standing there, I had chills running down my spine and goosebumps everywhere.
Indeed, as the President said, they would “remember, rebuild, and come back stronger”.
The 104-floor One World Trade Centre, dubbed the Freedom Tower, is a fierce comeback of the American. With an exterior more lustrous and majestic than ever, the indignation of this tower is starkly juxtaposed with the deluged of agony and struggles buried deep in the pools.
Annual commemoration of the 9/11 attack is less than two weeks away. Even if we can’t genuinely understand and sympathise with the predicament of those affected, I hope that we can at least be aware of the changes (at least, at the most general level) that it had entailed upon every one of us up till today:
1. Beefed-up security controls at the airport
Long lines at the checkpoints, full body check and no more than 100ml of liquids on air.
2. No bins in the city
Many thrash bins have been removed from public spaces to avoid attackers planting bombs or hiding their weapons.
Next time when you go around landmarks (or even the Underground) of London, pay more attention to those bins with design like clear plastic bag suspended on a hoop. They look like that for a reason.
3. More difficult to travel into the States
Requirements of US visa are complicated and even with one, it is not guaranteed that the holder will be allowed to enter the country. I’m sure all lot of people can relate to this.
And most prominently,
4. Distorted views on Islam-ism
Vicious racism, irrelevant fear. Coming from a Muslim country (though myself not a follower), I am appalled at the coinage of “Islamophobia”.
There will always be people who are over-zealous in their views and beliefs. And people like this made up only a small portion of the larger community. So before judging, make sure you are entirely clear about the distinction between piety and extremism.
Not all of our fears are dangerous.
With love x