Saturday, March 20, 2010

My 9/11 experience (minus the terror)

This might be a small and insignificant incident but it is one of my most remembered and cherished ones...


September 11, 2001 - Two days before my brother was born. We were very anxious, especially my dad. I was eight years old then. When asked whether I wanted a sister or brother, I said “a brother...yes, I’d love to have a brother. No, a sister…she can wear my old dresses then.”

We were in the hospital mostly, the same hospital where I was born, as were my cousins. My mama was sleeping mostly. She grew alien to me in those few months. Then there was dad. I was always with him. While we were in the hospital, he’d take me somewhere to eat. Once he took me to a browsing centre where he and I played “Roadrash.” I stumbled a couple of times over the garbage bin. How we laughed! Now I see my brother play the same bike game, frantically hitting the keys on his joystick.

I had zero idea how a baby comes out of the mommy’s tummy. But I had seen the many, many movies where mothers to be where in labour, screaming and shouting for a few minutes. Then suddenly the screaming stops, you hear a crying sound and see the nurse holding a baby.

Well then, we were making arrangements for the yet to be born baby. My aunt and uncle went to buy clothes for the baby – unisex ones, loads and loads. We were in need of a fan, a pedestal fan for my mom. So dad, grandpa (my mom’s dad) and I went riding the bajaj vespa scooter to buy it. My dad didn’t have a car back then. We bought a Maruti Alto soon after Hareesh was born, on September 27, I think.

Electronic store #1. We were on the lookout for the ideal fan. We were shown a very good brand. It was a little big though. We’d have bought it. But I didn’t like the colour – pale blue. It looked as though it was made for hospitals. They said there weren’t any more colours. So we went to another store.

Electronic store #2. This store was a big one. They had some fans lined up in a corner. One was a red fan of the same brand. I liked it but my dad didn’t buy it. I don’t know why maybe due to the price or something. Then my dad saw what they were showing in all the dozen TV-s there. I could see a tall building covered with smoke. A bomb blast, I thought. A crowd gathered around us. It must have been 7 pm. I asked dad, “Why daddy? What’s happening?”

“Someone bombed the twin towers”

“Twin towers? Where is it?”

America, dear”

I don’t remember seeing my grandpa’s face but he must have been shocked for he has a son (my uncle) working in the US. We stood there for few minutes and then left. I couldn’t understand why people were shocked. ‘It didn’t happen here, did it?’ I thought. By the way, we still didn’t buy the fan.

Electronic store #3. My memory is rather vague with this one. I remember boxes, boxes everywhere, lined up perfectly against the wall. We were once more shown the same brand, same colours. But what caught my eye was a green one (I love green). We bought it and it was brought to our house.

So the hunt for a pedestal fan was finally over on 11/9/01 but the hunt to end global terrorism began on the same day in the US and almost everywhere else. Since the twin tower tragedy, there has been no major terrorist attack in the US due to the stringent actions taken by the government. But the same cannot be said of our country. We have seen the worst terrorist attack on 26/11/08. It has made, by and large, India an unsafe country.

So then, Hareesh was born on 13th at 2.30 am. My half yearly exams started the same day but it was only at 1 pm. So I remember myself getting up early; got ready and went to the hospital along with my grandpa.The baby wasn’t there then. They had taken it somewhere. I was given a bag full of candies to give to the other family who was in that room (it was shared by 2 mothers). Fifteen minutes later, the baby was brought. His face was so pink, so tiny and so tender.’

My mother must have been there but I don’t remember myself asking her anything. Oh well! My brother’s grown now. He’s eight years old and watch out, he’s got a big mouth. And oh the fan! It’s still here – a bit rusty with some of the screws loose but it still does its duty and remains a faithful assistant to the ceiling fan!

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