5 Years Later
My dad once told me he remembers clearly still exactly what he was doing when he got the news of John F. Kennedy's assasination. Mom remembers that moment too.
I imagine for another generation, it might have been Pearl Harbor. Or the atomic bomb.
It's not difficult to imagine what that moment would be for people of my generation.
It was the day I learnt that evil truly exists in this world.
Before that moment, I was naive enough to think that man, inherently, was good. But that taught me that some people deep down truly are full of evil, and hatred. People who would maim, torture and kill for the sake of their own sick, blind and ignorant interpretation of what their God asks of them.
I was in KL then. Staying at a friend's apartment when he came knocking on my door. We watched CNN together. My eyes did not believe what they saw. A building on fire. Replays of the first plane flying into it. And then the 2nd. I remained glued to the TV. In disbelief. Horror. And when the towers fell, half a world away, it felt like someone had stuck a red-hot dagger into my very chest. I had to go into my room. I said a prayer for those who were killed. The tears fell before I was done.
I called my (then) girlfriend to make sure she was ok. Though, being in Canada, she was oblivious to the ongoing nightmare.
The news started trickling in in the next few days. I heard from a friend from medical school who was doing an emergency medicine residency in NYC at that time. She said in her email that it was eerie. They had prepped the hospital for a disaster, ambulances after ambulances, bringing in the wounded. But they never came. We know now, it was because they didn't make it.
At that moment, I had to resist the impulse to go up to her and slap her across the cheek. Shouting. Doesn't she know masses of people were killed? Masses. Nothing can justify that act. No racial, religious, political differences. This comment, coming from a professional in an institution of learning, of healthcare. The irony. A product of a country's racist system, no doubt.
3 years later, on 9/11, I visited Ground Zero. Though the ruins had been removed, the mangled beams that made out a cross remained. A stubborn symbol of faith in man's darkest moment.