Saturday, September 11


I had been back in Sri Lanka for about two months. The whole country was going through one of it's periodic power cut seasons and the house was in darkness. Traffic sounds outside, the soft glow of light from nearby Colombo. The boring, seemingly interminable wait for the lights to come back on. The phone rings. My cousin.

"Are you watching TV ? "
"No ... why ? power cut, remember."
"A couple of planes have crashed into the World Trade Center in New York"

The cynical will argue that hundreds, thousands die equally terrible deaths each year, in many parts of the globe. Perhaps that many died in a matter of weeks or months in Sri Lanka, before the ceasefire. Some will say that there is perhaps a mercy to a swift death, denied to those who end their lives in a slow miserable wasting as starvation or disease extinguish their life spark. There are those who seek to provoke a reaction by saying the US had it coming, that this was the ultimate repayment for years of arrogance and botched foreign policy. I saw none of that, that night and in the days after. I don't have to like the reaction of the US in the aftermath, and even today. I don't have to agree with the progaganda. Maybe I shouldn't buy into this whole memorial business at all. But nearly 3000 people died that day in a series of televised images that are impossible to erase from my mind, and for them, I spent a few minutes remembering where I was and what I felt that day.

There is a bittersweet ending here, at least for a couple of people I know. One guy who worked in the WTC was on his way to work when the first plane hit. He was saved. Another guy was out of state on business. He was saved too. But both their companies were wiped out.


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