Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Manhattan without the Twin Towers

Though I was raised in a city, my parents had come from a small village in India. They had struggled to give us the best. And for giving that, we children would always remain grateful.

Whenever I shared my dream of visiting USA, with my friends and relatives, they often looked at me with disbelief and derision.

All places aside, for me, USA meant the 'Statue of Liberty' and the 'Manhattan skyline'. And during my childhood, one of the pictures that got seared into my memory - from a New York City tourist-booklet that an uncle of mine, who returned from USA, gave me - was that of the Manhattan skyline with the twin towers of the World Trade Centre looming over it. And I have always desired and dreamed to see that skyline. In that way.

But following that fateful, tragic day, 11 September 2001, when I heard that the towers were attacked by two planes, my television was continuously on for two days as I was glued to the news. My heart was broken, like those of many; not only at the thousands who perished in the attacks, but also at the sight of the two beautiful buildings crumbling to dust in billows of smoke, in those news clips that were replayed again and again.

I was unable to understand how anyone would attack and destroy such beautiful towers. But the Al Qaeda, with its leader Osama bin Laden, seemed to only see destruction, and not beauty, in it.

Last year, I was able to finally visit the New York City. And standing at Ground Zero, with my wife and two little children, the flood of emotions that overpowered me, are not easy to express. In fact, they cannot be expressed. And if I can feel that way, I can understand how much harder it is for the New Yorkers, the Americans, and especially for those who lost their loved ones in the 9/11 attacks.

I was able to talk to a Ground Zero construction site supervisor, who himself was a New Yorker but had been visiting Canada when the attacks occurred, expressing his sorrow. I was able to listen to the tourist guide explaining the new design of the tower coming up at Ground Zero.

I was able to explain to my bewildered children, one of whom was born around the same time that the attacks occurred, on why this particular place had become so important.

The 9/11 attacks have changed the course of history. And the death of this terrorist, Osama bin Laden, who led the attacks must now be consigned to history books.

Somehow, it is very strange; and against my normal temperament, but I just do not seem to have any pity for him.

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