Friday, September 12, 2014

September 11

I was driving to work and almost there, looking for a good parking spot. It was a sunny morning in Burlington, MA, Fall setting in, the radio playing new albums, intermittent traffic updates, New England gearing up for Halloween decorations, pumpkin spiced Latte at the local Starbucks. Ameet took his flight in the morning, he was traveling to a client site. 

The music was interrupted  - I remember a twinge of annoyance at my song being cut off - and a very confused reporter started off by saying " We have just heard news that a plane has hit or grazed one of the towers, not yet sure if it is a recreation aircraft or a helicopter" and handed off to a correspondent who was going to check the site out. I nodded my head, mentally criticizing people who took it to the next level by flying their personal planes for fun on a work day and that too in the middle of Manhattan, and hoped that the pilot was okay. And just as I was ready to turn the switch and get out of my car - the reporter screamed and frantically started saying that they can see a passenger aircraft flying towards the tower. Then came the realization that the first aircraft was also a full fledged passenger one and was from Boston. And as I sat there stunned and confused, I heard the impact of the second plane.

This is the first time I have written about it. And reliving those moments my hands grow cold, my heart constricts, my throat goes dry and I relive the horror and despair of all the moments to follow. It is amazing how a moment can change so drastically in a flash. The rushing in to my office to figure out if Ameet flew to DC or Manhattan, (I did not keep track as he traveled so much). The relief to know his destination was DC replaced by a new fear after hearing about the DC flights, as his office was next to the Pentagon and unable to contact for a whole 8 hours as communications were jammed in that area. The shock to learn we lost a co-worker in the flight from Boston and the hourly updates that stated how many people had been accounted for in the Sun Microsystems office in the second tower. The calls to locate a missing uncle and 2 cousins who worked in the same area as the towers. Ameet was contactable in the evening and he and a friend drove back from DC amidst all the mayhem. We were able to locate our family members late into the night and I am so very thankful for the blessings that day. And grateful and in awe of how the country's forces united to support and help the ones affected by this tragedy.

The thought about people leaving their homes in the morning for a regular day and not being able to ever see their family members again, trying to remember their last conversation - not having the slightest inkling that it would be their last...... The images fill me with sadness, the feeling of helplessness of not being able to contact your loved ones, the waiting and to so many the delivery of terrible, terrible news. This awful proof that man can do this to another man ....... 

The dictionary defines humanity as 
: the quality or state of being human
: the quality or state of being kind to other people or to animals

This day is a terrible reminder that these two definitions may not be synonymous. Whenever I see a digital clock say "9:11", my heart skips a beat, when I see a celebration on 09/11, I dread to attend it, I hesitate to travel on this day, I go through every hour a little tentatively, with a heavy heart. Some wounds heal but the scars are deeper than we know ......

Thursday, May 1, 2014

 May 1st

May 1st is celebrated in different parts of the world as May Day in Great Britain, International Workers Day in USA, Spring Celebration Day in many parts of Europe,  Valborgsmässoafton in Sweden celebrated the night before,  Kevadpüha in Estonia ,  ziua bețivilor (drunkards' day) in Romania, Lei Day in Hawaii, the list is long.  At the beginning of the 20th century, it became a custom in France to give a sprig of lily of the valley on May 1st as a symbol of springtime Most importantly it is also Maharashtra Din in Mumbai - The day the state of Maharashtra was formed by the Bombay Reorganization Act, 1960  so it is a bank holiday !

But in our family we celebrated May Day for a reason much closer to home - it is my parents' Wedding Anniversary. For us kids (me and my brother) we knew that the day is not not only a holiday but it would be filled with chocolates and flowers, traditional recipes would be cooked for breakfast and lunch, a morning trip to the Fish Market to get the first catch of the day,  an inevitable last minute(!) trip to the jewelery and sari stores with my dad, a trip to the only Bengali Sweets store in town to get Mishti Doi . A busy day culminating in an evening of more fun and food at the restaurant of my mom's choice ( well, we tried to influence the decision). It never occurred to us they would want to do something together without us tagging along, we simply assumed it was a family celebration to be celebrated together ! If anyone dropped over to wish them, they would be all invited to stay for lunch or join us for dinner :)

Today on this rainy day there is emptiness in the air .....It is the first May 1st without my dad. A first of many firsts to come ....