Reliving the day of 9/11 after 19 years today is definitely an eye opening experience. I do clearly remember the September of 2001 mostly because of the incident. All the way in Pakistan a young kid who had recently given his O’level examinations at St. Patrick’s High School. It was a regular day, I woke up early in the morning had breakfast, was driven to school and sat through the drudgery of the day.
Nothing out of the ordinary, private tuitions and religious school in the afternoon and in the evening.
It was around dinner time and I clearly remember having dinner earlier with mother and the TV was on and suddenly the look of horror on mothers face as the twin towers appeared on the TV ablaze.
Looking up I saw the towers burning but my young self could not fathom what was happening.
I had visited the twin towers earlier as a child and they were one of my favorites in New York. Going around New York City in a Double Decker bus and then going all the way up on the towers with Grandfather, telling him gleefully that this is where I wanted my office to be.
I remember asking mother about what was happening but no answer was forth-coming a just ‘be quite’.
No doubt there was a big worry as New York and New Jersey were regularly visited with many a family and friends being there.
Life held steady for us kids, what did change was the mood. A somber mood came over the house and the school. I soon noticed that there was no delight on the faces of my teachers and parents when I expressed my gleeful business ideas and stories of travel.
Just a seriousness that would make take the fun out of my playfulness.
For us, my friends, family and colleagues, 9/11 was and is a scar.
What ensued was everyone trying to facilitate our learning as well as possible, but with a lot more seriousness than before. Our further international examinations took place, high school ended, I enrolled in further advanced studies.
Working and growing up in the post 9/11 era was a challenge in itself. The volatility that ensued was disastrous to many families and business mostly because of the violence that ensued and the close proximity to Afghanistan.
What was supposed to be a bright future for our class and in particular myself became a routine of watching the live coverage of the war in Afghanistan.
Older and many years later moving to US permanently in 2007 post 9/11 was another experience in itself.
Since, not many people were aware of my upbringing in a British/American/Catholic/Muslim system, on the face I would encounter a lot of adversity.
Neither did it help that my name it self a staunch muslim name doesn’t hide in anyway my religious affiliation.
Over the years as tensions between the two religions and the two polar sides of the world increased so did the adversity.
Personally I do-not blame people for their outlook, but needless to stay facing adversity about something that has hurt you as much as it has hurt others can be a bit taxing.
Hence, the last 14 years in the US has been a struggle, being called names, not being trusted, apprehended, questioned.
Usually never a dull moment, a file that won’t close and a wound that will not heal.