The remembrance would have been uncomplicated and even calming if we could just recall and mourn the horrific events of the tragic Tuesday exactly ten years ago. But as we well know, the aftermath of the terror that struck at the heart of our collective psyche did not stop at righteous anger, sorrow, reflection, or a thoughtful response to the mindless violence that was wreaked upon thousands of innocent citizens, their families and the entire nation.
September 11, 2001 began as a quiet normal day for me in faraway Texas. My husband left for work earlier than usual, around 7:45 that morning. I sat with a cup of tea at the breakfast table reading the newspaper. Around 8am, my husband called from his car asking me to turn the TV on. He did not say why. I switched on the TV to CNN and saw a tall tower burning and smoking. Within a couple of minutes, I saw a second explosion "behind" the same tower but did not realize that it was a new explosion in a "different" tower which was obscured from view by the first structure. I don't recall whether I even saw the plane flying into the second tower when I was watching the scene in real time. Later of course, during numerous replays, I noticed the plane... again and again.
Soon afterwards, friends began calling. My aunt called from Florida and my sister from New Delhi. Everyone was shaken and stunned. Around mid-morning, I got an agitated call from my daughter in Connecticut. She asked me not to go out of the house and if I did, not to wear Indian clothing. She also suggested that her father should shave off his beard. Later in the afternoon a friend who worked at the local high school phoned me and said that all Muslim students had been taken out of the school early that day by their parents. Even in my confusion, anger and befuddlement I realized that we had the option to respond to the horror of that day with responsible and controlled measures or with misguided fury and/or manipulative power play. We know now which path our elected leaders chose and we are still paying the price.
P.S. I did go out to run some errands on September 11, 2001. Despite my daughter's warning I went out in Salwar-Kameez although trousers and t-shirts are usually my garments of choice on such occasions. And, my husband never considered shaving his professorial beard. I don't think we were being particularly brave or making a defiant point. It just felt so silly to succumb to fear and paranoia about something that is a natural part of how we look and behave.