Where were you on 09/11/2001, do you remember?
I was in NY.
My wife Veena and I were both working for a company called Prodigy Communications. We had just joined a few months earlier.
That unfortunate day, I was earlier than usual to work. I was just settling down at my desk with a hot cup of coffee, when I heard a lot of murmuring, and I stood up to see many people suddenly rushing towards the staircase going downstairs.
I thought it was either a fire – or something had happened to someone at the premises. So I followed suit.
Going down the stairs, I saw people gathering in the big community hall where we usually had our all-hands meeting.
It was the first time I noticed that there was a a small TV in one corner of the room. And I saw everyone huddling around it.
I went closer and saw a building on fire. Smoke billowing out of it like crazy. It was the first tower.
Don’t remember feeling much at that time. It was just that terrible feeling when you see a tragic accident. They were saying a plane had crashed into one of the world trade buildings. No one knew it as an actual large, commercial plane – it looked more like a much smaller training-plane kind of accident. No casualties had yet been reported. Luckily, it was still early in the work day – so hopefully the offices were still not too full. “Hopefully, it isn’t going to be too bad”, we all nervously consoled ourselves.
And then as we all kept watching, the second plane hit. I don’t know if we actually saw the second plane, but that’s how I remember it.
And soon after, the first tower collapsed.
I heard a emotional male co-worker let out a blood curdling shriek in horror. That’s actually the first time when it really hit everyone that we were witnessing one of the greatest acts of terror ever carried out not just on US soil, but in our lifetimes too.
And then the second tower collapsed.
People were getting sick and passing out around me.
Some were sobbing uncontrollably.
Some were calling others to find out if their friends or loved ones were safe.
I don’t remember what happened the rest of the day after that – it’s all one big blur now.
Looking back to that day, and thinking about the events that unfolded, it still gives me goosebumps. I have a sickening knot in my stomach even as I write this. And I didn’t even know anyone among the 3,000 unfortunate souls who lost their lives on that fateful day.
I don’t know what it feels like to have lost a loved one to the tragedy. I can only imagine.
I was fortunate enough to not have lost anyone among my friends or loved ones on that day.
The closest I came to it, was finding out later that a close friend’s brother had been to the WTC buildings that morning. He couldn’t be reached immediately, and it was a nervous few hours for my friend, but he eventually turned out OK. He had already left the building by then, and he narrowly missed being part of the tragedy.
Even though 10 years passed since the tragedy, no year has had so much impact on my emotions or on my entire family, as it has this year.
As I sat with my wife and children and watched the various memorials and documentaries and interviews, we couldn’t help but thank the media for it.
I had never before felt the compelling need to write and share about that day, but today I’m doing so, thanks to the media that made us all remember why this day is so special, one to be remembered, one to be mourned, and one to be celebrated.
I guess I needed to wake up and remember the pain.
I needed to realize how fortunate I am – and how fortunate my family and friends are to have not lost anyone that day.
And I needed to appreciate the unimaginable suffering and pain that all the families who lost loved ones that day have endured for the last 10 years.
So I wanted to write this, to share my acknowledgment of the pain – and let the world know, that I have not forgotten.
And I will never forget what happened. Because it changed all of our lives in so many ways.
May God bless the souls of those who died on September 11, 2001, and bring peace to their families and loved ones.
- Ravi Jayagopal
PS: If you have a story of your own to share, please do so in the comments below.