Where were you?
I was at home. Taking a break from my homework and wishing the weekend would start already. My dad was taking a nap after work, my mom was running errands I think. My siblings were bickering over what to watch. I told them to keep their voices down and to clean up the mess. I pointed to empty juice cartons and candy wrappers. I took this opportunity to grab the remote and change the channel. I was looking for my music show. Instead, I found a plane crashing into a tall building. I clicked the remote again. And again. And again.
Why are they all showing the same movie? my little brother wanted to know.
I couldn’t tell him. I didn’t know myself. He grabbed the remote.
Wait! Wait! I yelled. I think this is important.
Why? he asked me. Why is it important?
Because it’s now. It’s happening right this minute. Get it? In America.
I turned up the volume. We listened.
Didn’t the plane see the building? he asked me.
Shdarrani?!* I turned up the volume.
Were there two planes on TV now? I was baffled. Were there actual people in these buildings? It didn’t look real at all.
What is going on? my brother demanded. The phones in our house started ringing.
I yelled at my siblings to wake my dad up. To tell him that something bad had happened and it was on the news. I didn’t know if it was an accident or a war but I remember praying that it wasn’t a world war. I was terrified.
The following day was worse, everyone in school had a theory – well, had their version of their parents’ theory. We were taught new words: Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, terrorism, jihad and Taliban. A 15-year-old bookworm, I was amazed. Where did all these words come from and why did I not know them? These words never made an appearance in all my R.L. Stine, Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, Stephen King and Ann M. Martin years. They weren’t even in Danielle Steel novels (I had thought she wrote for grown ups).
Unfortunately, I have to end abruptly here and get to bed.
(This post would have been better if I wasn’t listening to my friend’s conspiracy theories the whole time I was trying to write this.)
Lest we forget:
The September 11 attacks split the world into one of the most dangerous “us” and “them” schisms. It’s time we thought critically about what the media feeds us and what politicians repeat. It’s time we prayed for the victims of the attacks and made sure we don’t contribute to terrorism and killings elsewhere.
2,977 Americans lost their lives that day – may they rest in peace and may God grant their families patience and courage.
*Shdarrani is Kuwaiti for “how should I know?”